Nicols Fox, author of Spoiled: Why our food is making us sick and It Was Probably Something You Ate, was asked to review Eric Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, for the Washington Post in 2001 because of her work on the subject of foodborne pathogens.

When a “massive production of hamburger is created,” says Fox, “if there’s one contaminated cow, it can contaminate the entire lot, and then that entire lot is made into little frozen hamburger patties that are then distributed all over the United States. Thus, instead of having maybe one or two people get sick, you have an outbreak that can cover the breadth of the United States.”

These illnesses are problems “we really hadn’t confronted before that were associated with food,” says Fox. “I looked at how changes in lifestyle, culture, food production, processing and distribution had really created these new pathogens, and they really were new.”