Poisoned – The Dirty Truth About Your Food movie review: Terrifying Netflix documentary offers compelling reasons to never eat food again | Movie-review News

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Poisoned – The Dirty Truth About Your Food movie review: Terrifying Netflix documentary offers compelling reasons to never eat food again | Movie-review News

Poisoned movie review: The new Netflix shock-doc doesn’t have a single jump scare, but it’s the most terrifying film of the year so far.

poisoned movie reviewA still from Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food. (Photo: Netflix)

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In a country where the sweat that trickles down the arm of the golgappa bhaiya is viewed as an important street food ingredient, watching the new Netflix documentary Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food can be a nightmarish experience. Indeed, even though it doesn’t have a single jump scare, it is the most terrifying movie of the year so far.

Focused entirely on the perils of being a consumer in the United States, ostensibly a country with more robust regulations than ours, the movie highlights the many ways in which regular food can not only cause grave illness, but in some cases, horrible death. Director Stephanie Soechtig chooses to open in the most gut-wrenching manner imaginable; she has a middle-aged man tearily reflect on the loss of his baby child to an E. coli outbreak caused by contaminated hamburgers in the early ‘90s.

Known as the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak of 1992-1993, the tragedy exposed the many ways in which the simple act of eating fast food could result in death. Most of the victims of this outbreak, which was caused by a criminal undercooking of beef patties, were children under the age of 10. It’s an agonising opening, and the film maintains this sense of outrage throughout its hour-and-fifteen-minute run time. One of the main voices in the film is a lawyer named Bill Marler, who after securing a $15 million settlement for his client after the Jack in the Box outbreak, became one of the foremost figures in the fight for food safety.

But just when I heaved a sigh of relief at not being a meat-eater, the film presented the first of its many ‘plot twists’ when it declared that the riskiest food item that one can consume these days isn’t animal-related at all, but romaine lettuce. There goes Subway. After that, the surprises kept coming. Spinach, melons, chicken… even eggs; everything can be fatal. In fact, all meats have some amount of bacteria on them, the movie says, and most food regulations put the burden of cleanliness on the consumer. Ate a salad that sent you to the morgue? It’s your fault. Laws like this are what people like Marler are fighting to reform.

To its credit, Poisoned includes a host of voices from across various fields — science, policy… It even features a couple of whistleblowers, who reveal horrific details about how certain chicken farms and peanut factories operate. Yes, even peanuts are dangerous. You can wash your food to any degree of satisfaction, but can you ever make sure that the irrigation water that farmers are using isn’t contaminated by animal waste? No.

In addition to presenting stats and historical context, the movie also puts representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the stand, only to watch them squirm and recite rote answers to pointed questions about accountability.

Unlike Netflix’s own shock-doc The Social Dilemma, which put people glued to their phones at the peak of the pandemic in a rather difficult spot, Poisoned appears to be more rigorously researched. It is both alarming and alarmist. But the most sobering moment comes right at the end, when a bunch of microbiologists admit that they avoid eating certain foods altogether. While they’re all admittedly too entrenched in these matters to have a less paranoid outlook, it’s enough to make you reconsider what you put inside your body.

Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food
Director – Stephanie Soechtig
Rating – 4.5/5

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First published on: 05-08-2023 at 07:58 IST

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