Yes, Obama Probably Has A Food Taster - But So Did Ronald Reagan
The recent taster controversy was sparked after a report of the President not eating at a lunch with Republican senators earlier this month."Apparently he has to have essentially a taster, and I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told the Daily Mail after the lunch. "He did look longingly at it and he remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do, and I said that was because I was hosting."
"They do more — let's not characterize this as some kind of Medieval court food taster. That's not the case," Scheib told The Daily Intelligencer. "These folks have a number of different duties and responsibilities, one of which is to be sure that the president doesn't get poisoned, quite honestly."
But the criticism mocking Obama for asking to be treated as royalty appears to be misguided — presidential food-screeners appear to have been around since at least the 1980s.
Here's a New York Times report from President George W. Bush's inaugural lunch in 2001:
The president's tasters were on the job by 6 a.m., not just to make certain no one was trying to poison him, but to make sure the mushrooms that were to decorate the tenderloin of beef at the inaugural lunch for teetotaler George W. Bush were not cooked in wine. The tasters, Navy mess specialists who travel around the world with the president, watched the preparations in a makeshift kitchen just off Statuary Hall in the Capitol.
And here's a Jan. 26, 1998 report from Joe Murray of Cox News Service criticizing Reagan for the practice:
So does Obama have a food taster? We may never know for sure, because the Secret Service is understandably tight-lipped.
But with the President facing 30 death threats a day, it's not that outlandish to think the threat could come from the kitchen.