"a mysterious food poisoning that literally turned 11 New York City alcoholics blue."
I thought that alcoholics often die, and then turn blue.
That has nothing to do with being an alcoholic. The other ten victims turned blue before surviving. The mislabeled sodium nitrite interfered with the normal carrying capacity of hemoglobin, the special protein in red blood cells, for oxygen. So the one person who died was chemically suffocated. Here's a link