A new Netflix documentary titled “Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food” is awakening the public to the reality of how animal agriculture has been poisoning the foods of Americans for decades, by not controlling contamination with pathogens well enough. 

The documentary begins with the 1990s health crisis in the US when hamburgers from the company Jack in the Box were contaminated with the bacteria Escherichia coli O157:H7, causing infections in more than 730 people, and leading to the deaths of four children. It then moves to other contamination outbreaks with E-coli, and contamination with Salmonella in other more recent health crises. Although some of the contaminated food items in such crises are not animal products, but green leaves such as lettuce, they are all connected with animal agriculture. Foods affected are  either meats from infected animals or contaminated in the slaughterhouse, eggs from factory farms, or crops that have been contaminated by pollution from nearby animal farms (or by the use of manure). 

The documentary discusses infamous cases of contamination of organic vegetables (such as the case of an outbreak from contaminated organic baby spinach salad), which, because they are still cultivated using animal manures (unlike the case of veganic farming), can also cause food poisoning.

Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for the US Department of Agriculture, told the Guardian regarding these outbreaks in 2020 that  “Whenever you have an E.coli outbreak in any produce, and you do a long enough investigation, eventually you will bump into a cow.” 

Cowspiracy, What the Health, and Eating Our Way to Extinction are other documentaries that have addressed the issue of how factory farming is affecting negatively people’s health, but this new documentary digs deeper into the issue of bacterial contamination. Poisoned is directed by Stephanie Soechtig, an award-winning writer, producer, and documentary film director who directed Under the Gun, which received a prolonged standing ovation when it premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.