In Turkey, Testing the President’s Food Not for Taste, but for Poison

The presidential palace in Ankara. Credit Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

ISTANBUL — In a modern twist on a self-preservation tactic used by cautious kings and pharaohs, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is having his food tested before he eats — not by a human taster, though, but in the lab.

Mr. Erdogan’s physician, Dr. Cevdet Erdol, revealed this week that at least one of the thousand rooms in the president’s extravagant $600 million palace in Ankara, the capital, will hold a special food analysis laboratory to test the president’s meals for radioactive materials, poison or certain types of bacteria that could be used in an assassination attempt.

“We know that throughout the world, assassinations no longer take place through arms, but are secretly conducted by contaminating food with poisonous substances,” Dr. Erdol said in an interview published on Tuesday in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

He explained that five on-site experts were on duty for 14 hours a day, analyzing the president’s meals for suspicious substances and ensuring that all his nutritional needs are met…

The interview is in English (first link).