Does Vladimir Putin Really Have His Own Food Taster?

Monarchs and state officials throughout history have employed food tasters. According to Cheat Sheet, some have said that Queen Elizabeth II of England employed a food taster to ensure she didn't eat poisoned meals, although her former chef claims that the Queen never officially hired a person to consistently fill this role. The Daily Mail claims that this practice of hiring a person to taste meals before serving them traces back to the medieval ages. Ruling factions during the Renaissance, like the Medici family of Florence, garnered a reputation for poisoning rivals, and Kings like Louis XIV of France made sure 324 staff members checked the safety of his meals.

This practice has carried over to the modern era and more than just kings and queens employ professional food testers. The Smithsonian Magazine reports that Barack Obama used a food taster during a visit to France, while mice have sampled meals served to Olympians in the past. Deadly poisons can take hours or days to work, and dignitaries or monarchs most likely wouldn't wait that long to see if the effects of poison took hold. While it seems like food tasters may have a tough time finding work, one president allegedly has an entourage of food tasters prepared to risk their lives over tampered meals.

A president with a history of hired food tasters

Insiders have claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin hires food tasters in order to ensure that he doesn't come in contact with harmful substances. We aren't talking about how to avoid getting food poisoning, but rather, being poisoned by food. 

The international community raised their collective eyebrows back in 2012 when a former chef informed the world that the leader of the Kremlin has staff test his food before dining (per NDTV). The source clarified further, saying that these taste testers primarily worked in Moscow and didn't travel with the president during his outings.

Others have claimed that Putin has employed food testers in a similar fashion in the past. Mirror reports that the Russian president hired squads of food testers in 2018 over concerns of a possible threat after Russian Spy Sergei Skripa mysteriously received a harmful dose of a nerve agent in the U.K. These reports have some wondering if Putin truly does employ a team of food testers to ensure he doesn't get poisoned.

Vladimir Putin takes precautions against poison

The Russian president has a long history tied to the use of poisons. According to Insider, there are allegations that assassins under the direction of Putin have tried to kill political opponents, like Alexei Navalny, using a signature poison tied to the Kremlin. It only makes sense that a president who allegedly uses poison as a strategy might also fear the same tactic used against him.

According to The Independent, Putin has a variety of safeguards in place to ensure his safety. He employs a food taster and has his meals prepared by his own chef when traveling. For added precaution, the head of state also brings along spices from his home kitchen and dining ware when traveling. 

Keeping track of what Putin eats might be difficult, depending on his diet. Russia Beyond reports that the head of state "drinks raw quail eggs" for breakfast alongside porridge and washes it down with "a cocktail of beetroot and horseradish juice." Putin says "I don't have much time for food," and reveals he enjoys vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and salad, as well as cottage cheese, fish, and lamb.

Vladimir Putin's approach to safety

The New York Post noted that the Russian President remains cautious everywhere he goes. When speaking with his staff, he has himself placed on the opposite end of the table to keep a safe distance. He has scouts patrol and secure areas he intends to visit and even jams cell phone signals around him when he travels. With these many steps to ensure his safety, the official food tasters primarily stick to Moscow and oversee the day-to-day meal preparation of what Vladimir Putin eats (via The Telegraph).

According to National Post, the Russian leader also has hired body doubles, agents strapped with bulletproof vests, and the staff even uses "kevlar umbrellas" to make sure Putin remains secure in their care. These same employees have a keen understanding of politics and can understand foreign languages, making them, quite possibly, some of the best-trained food tasters known to history.

According to The Scotsman, Putin has growing concern over the sense that someone may assassinate him, which has spiraled further after invading another country. With the world's spotlight directed upon him in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, perhaps Vladamir Putin is right to be concerned.