Foodborne Illness in “The Jungle” and Today Research Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Nov 24th, 2019


Problems people face change. For example, the problematic situations people faced one hundred years ago do not seem problems for modern society, such as electricity, clean water, etc. Civilized world has changed and many issues of the past have been solved. However, there are still a lot of other problems which bothered people in the past and continue bother them today.

Reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair aimed at showing complicated and often dangerous work of employees, the author also presented a theme of bad food. The horrifying facts frustrated society in 1906, when the book was published in a series of journals. However, thinking that today people may feel safety and the food troubles have been overcome is a mistake.

There are a lot of products which cause foodborne illnesses in that time when innovative technologies allow to define the level of intoxication and the way how to destroy it, in that time when many types of food can be generated and synthesized. Therefore, the foodborne illnesses discussed in the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair still continue affect human life and cause many problems to their health today.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a novel which dwells upon many issues and problems poor people face during their life. However, the most shocking and devastating fact in that writing was the way how a solid enterprise manipulated people and made those eat food which was unfit.

The situation with spoiled food and the health problems which were caused by inappropriate products was not a center of the discussion, however, the whole society expressed their frustration. People could not even imagine that such issues could happen. The book vividly describes how infected and spoiled meat was recycled and released as canned meat. The book describes the meat producing industry from inside.

The main character managed to become a witness of “whenever meat was spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage” (Sinclair 164). The author gives people an opportunity to watch how canned meat is cooked and what sausages are made of.

The book under consideration shows that at the beginning of 1900’s food produces did not care much of the quality of food they released. There were two types of products’ destroy. The raw material could be brought of poor quality and the employees could harm a product due to low level of hygiene while manufacturing.

The conditions people worked at were disgusting. McIntyre analyzes the book trying to show that the situation people lived at and the level of income made those eat the products they were offered. The factory which produced meat had all the necessary certificates, there were several inspections around the plant, and many other supportive actions aimed at making sure that the products released by the plant were of good quality. However, this was not true. The food was awful and the government just covered the enterprise (McIntyre 7).

Foodborne illnesses today

Unfortunately, similar situations occur now. However, the problem seems to spread. In the novel Upton Sinclair writes, “the meat that was taken out of pickle would often be found sour, and how they would rub it up with soda to take away the smell, and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters; also of all the miracles of chemistry which they performed, giving to any sort of meat, fresh or salted, whole or chopped, any color and any flavor and any odor they chose” (Sinclair 164).

People could make sour meat look fresh in the beginning of 1990’s. Being aware of the modern technologies, it is fearfully to think how modern innovations and technologies may be helpful in making any product look fresh.

The very fact that 3,000 Americans die each year of foodborne illnesses confirms this statement. Looking at the world statistics presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses cause 76 million cases of disease, 325,000 of which are hospitalized and 5,000 die annually.

One of 500 US deaths is caused by foodborne illnesses. Children, elderly people, and pregnant women are under higher risk (“Mission”). People understand that each next dinner may be the last for them due to the official statistics, but they cannot exist without food.

Everything was great for Shelly Occhipinti-Krout, a 48-year-old mother of three children before she ate cantaloupe in August and became ill. She died in several days. There are a lot of such people who eat the products they seem to consume every day and then they become infected (Sheingate). It is impossible to imagine modern life in a city without products bought at the market.

Those who live in villages also need to buy food at markets as it is impossible to produce everything one needs for nutrition. Therefore, those who are sure that we have overcome the time period when The Jungle by Sinclair was written are mistaken. Unfortunately, people still die because of foodborne diseases and sometimes death comes in several hours after a product is eaten.

It is impossible to predict the disaster and there are many cases when nothing can be done about it. The statistics presented above shows the number of registered cases, but there are a lot of unregistered cases and the number of those is unknown. Many people die in the street and no one care for them. When such people are delivered to mortuaries, no one is bothered about the reasons of their deaths.

Pointing to the problems which exist in the modern society and which were during the time when Sinclair’s The Jungle was written, it is possible to state that the reasons are almost the same. Producers’ irresponsible attitude, the desire to get more money, and a wish to have fewer costs are the main reasons of the problems.

Many manufacturers do not consider their business as something sacred and thinking about profit they do all possible to reduce costs. When meat or another product is spoiled, manufactures begin to think how to correct the situation. Food business is beneficial. Many people use it as the way of earning money without thinking of the elementary hygiene norms. Of course, food industry remains under constant control, but this control is too weak and imperfect.

There are particular government organizations aimed at inspecting food industries and following them to meet the standards. The Food and Drug Administration has a budget of $1 billion annually. In comparison, the food market sales comprise $1.2 trillion annually.

The FDA is unable to check each product, only 6% of domestic food producers and 0.4% of importers are inspected. Illegal and uncertified markets and productions may be hidden for a long time (Sheingate). Such country as the USA has the third-party companies, the private inspections, aimed at checking food and giving grades to produces.

It is impossible to say that professional inspectors work there. Therefore, the quality of such inspections is to be doubt. Some of these private companies have financial connections to the companies they check, therefore, no objective report can be expected. However, these reports are made and accepted (Sheingate). The government tries to control food industry, but it is possible to say that they are unable. Food is produced in terrible conditions, the inspections are too rare and some of them do not correspond to the necessary norms.


Therefore, it may be concluded that food industry in the USA as well as in the whole world is in terrible condition. Absence of strong control and the inability to monitor the production processes makes it possible for manufactures to present spoiled food at the markets.

One hundred years has passed since the time of publishing of Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, but the situation at the food market has not changed. People still die because of inappropriate food. Moreover, modern technologies make it possible to affect a product in such a way that it remains fresh for a lengthy period of time but no one knows how such chemicals affect human organisms. Unfortunately, nothing can be changed for now and it seems that people will die because of foodborne illnesses for the further hundreds of years.

Works Cited

In an environment of drug-resistant pathogens and “pink slime,” why do the food industry and government place the onus for safety on consumers?

McIntyre, Ashley. “Upton Sinclair’s the jungle: The legal and social impacts of a classic novel.” Food Regulation in the United States. 22 February 2008. Web.

Mission.” Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention. 2012. Web.

Sheingate, Adam. “Still a Jungle.” Democracy 25 (2012). Web.

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2008. Print.

This research paper on Foodborne Illness in “The Jungle” and Today was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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