White House


Does the President Have an Official Food Taster?

Does the Secret Service taste President Obama’s food before it’s served?
White House


Does a full-time food taster work here?

“Official food taster” is one heck of a job. It’s putting your life on the line, one bite of food at a time. If someone wants to poison the king, they’ll have to go through you first. Only afforded to the extremely powerful, they apparently were the norm back in medieval times (or so the movies have told us), but do they still exist? And if so, does the president have one?

This question was recently posed to Quora, so we’ll let someone with some knowledge on the subject answer:

“No, he doesn't. 

When the President stops in at a local restaurant during his travels in the US, Secret Service will depend on the fact that his exact stop is unknown to all but a very limited few and the fact that restaurants do not, as a rule, have poisoned food on hand. They might, however, watch as a burger or salad is being made.

When traveling abroad, eating dinners prepared by other-than-cleared chefs, someone from the White House kitchen is in attendance as food is prepared and served. This has been known to cause a little friction with chefs, but the Secret Service doesn't really give a damn about chefs' delicate sensibilities and pride.

If the President is dining at Buckingham Palace or the Elysée, then there will be an assumption that an official assassination isn't in the cards. Secret Service will accept that a country's own protective service will have vetted and cleared food preparation staffs.”


Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into making sure that everything the president and his family eats is safe, but this should give you an idea of how it goes down. Also, keep in mind that most poisons are relatively slow-acting, so having someone take a bite a minute or two before the president does wouldn’t actually accomplish much.