This chapter explores the relationship between public health, epidemiology, and the laboratory in the field of food poisoning and Salmonella science between around 1900 and 1939, and how the interests of the laboratory, which came to focus on Salmonella taxonomy, diverged from those of epidemiology and prevention during these years. In exploring the work of the taxonomists on the one hand and that of the Ministry of Health’s pathology laboratory on the other, it shows how this divergence of scientific interests—on the one hand science for science’s sake, on the other the pursuit of knowledge for applied purposes—contributed to knowledge and eventually to practical preventive outcomes. The laboratory was the critical site within which the power relations between observational epidemiology and microbiology were gradually reversed.
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