Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety

Streaming Media

Document Type



Fall 10-30-2019


Foodborne illness is a big problem. Wash those chicken breasts, and you’re likely to spread Salmonella to your countertops, kitchen towels, and other foods nearby. Even salad greens can become biohazards when toxic strains of E. coli inhabit the water used to irrigate crops. All told, contaminated food causes 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year in the United States. Timothy Lytton’s newest book Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety (Chicago University Press 2019) takes a deep dive into the complex workings of the U.S. food safety system. The book offers practical reforms that will strengthen the food safety system’s capacity to learn from its mistakes and identify cost-effective food safety efforts capable of producing measurable public health benefits. Author Timothy Lytton explained how devastating foodborne illness outbreaks have spurred steady scientific and technological advances in food safety.