Best-selling author Jeff Benedict this year released Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, which chronicles the history-making 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak that introduced the nation to a deadly foodborne pathogen: E. coli O157:H7.  The book follows victims, corporate executives, defense attorneys, and plaintiffs lawyers through the events of the outbreak and its aftermath as each works in his or her own way to make sense of an unprecedented situation. 

The book has received rave reviews from news outlets like the New York Times, Associated Press and the Seattle Bar News and is recommend reading for anyone concerned about the state of the American food supply.  Now, at least six universities are finding value in the new book, too. Washington State University, Seattle University, Northeastern University, the New England School of Law, Brigham Young University-Idaho, and the Arkansas School of Law all plan to use the book in part of their curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year. 

All schools were given books as part of a donation drive performed by the book’s central figure, food safety attorney William Marler, and Benedict.  From courses in legal writing, journalism, and public affairs to nutrition and microbiology, each school is planning to utilize the donated books in a unique way.  In addition, the Deans of the following law schools, Yale University, Harvard Law School, Stanford University, Columbia University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of California Berkeley, University of Virginia, Duke University, Northwestern University, Cornell University, University of Texas Austin, University of California Los Angeles, Vanderbilt University, University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, George Washington University, University of Minnesota, Boston University, Indiana University, University of California Davis, University of Illinois, University of Notre Dame, Boston College, College of William and Mary , University of Iowa, Emory University, Fordham University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Washington School of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Ohio State University, University of Alabama School of Law, University of Georgia School of Law, University of Wisconsin Madison, Wake Forest University, Arizona State University, George Mason University, Brigham Young, University of California Hastings, University of Maryland , University of Utah, Tulane University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Florida and American University, received copies of the book as well.

“Having conducted hundreds of interviews in the construction of this story, it wasn’t long before I came to realize the utter complexity of the Jack in the Box situation,” said Benedict. “The situation in Poisoned reveals the comprehensive nature of a foodborne illness outbreak. Corporate executives, public health officials, lawyers on both sides, and of course the victims all had a stake in the outcome, and in this book you really see that. I am pleased to see Poisoned serve as a teaching tool in so many fields.”

The book’s release comes in a year in which food safety has been a dominant issue. From the President’s signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in January to the record E. coli outbreak in Europe that sickened thousands this spring and a recent 36 million pound ground turkey recall, food safety issues have rarely left the headlines.

“Having dealt with countless foodborne illness outbreaks and cases since Jack in the Box, the events of this year, primarily the enormous antibiotic-resistant European E. coli outbreak, have often reminded me the way things felt in 1993,” said Marler. “Frankly, this is worrisome, but I am glad the book could be so timely as it pertains to meaningful education.”

Bill Marler was a young attorney navigating uncharted legal waters when he represented children made seriously ill in the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. Today, his firm Marler Clark is considered to be the nation’s leading food safety law firm.  Marler works frequently with industry groups, academia, and government to improve food safety in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more at

Jeff Benedict is a critically acclaimed investigative author who published his first book in 1997. He has since written many others including Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World’s Largest Casino and Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage. Learn more at