Before the U.S. had sanitation laws and regulations on meat packing plants- government officials conducted experiments on humans to investigate food and drink fraud.

The Oregon Public Library is hosting a book discussion on the “The Poison Squad,” 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the library, 256 Brook St.

“The Posion Squad,” this year’s Go Big Read book for the University of Wisconsin-Madison will unveil the details of this twentieth century fight for food safety.

The book highlights the work of Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, who was the chief chemist of the federal department of agriculture during around the turn of the 20th century, and was an integral person involved in the passing of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act.

The agency began investigating food and drink fraud; even conducting human tests on groups of men known as, “The Poison Squad.”

“It may not always serve us to cast a rosy glow over the past or even over its heroes,” author Deborah Blum stated in a news release.

Blum earned her Master’s degree in environmental journalism in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1997 to 2015.

The UW-Madison Go Big Read book was announced in April 2019. The initiative, led by the chancellor’s office, is meant to engage members of the campus community and beyond in a shared, academically focused reading experience.

People interested in participating in the book discussion can reserve a book through using LinkCat or calling 835-3656.

For information on the book discussion, contact librarian Kara Ripley at 835-6268 or