Legislative Consequences After The Jungle Book Publication
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair gave a very harrowing insight into the meatpacking industry during the early nineteen hundreds. Chapter after chapter I read some pretty revolting things such as having rodent feces on the meat, workers falling into vats of chemicals, and meatpackers using spoiled meat and trash in some of their canned products. Following the release of The Jungle “The White House was bombarded with mail, calling for reform of the meat-packing industry.” The public was outraged in response to the publication of his book. His novel caused the meat packing industry to up their standards with the meatpacking process and worker safety.
One of the biggest concerns in the book was the appalling sanitary conditions in the processing plant. Time and time again Sinclair writes about the disgusting conditions the livestock is slaughtered in. In the book it is said that there is a trap that catches scraps of meat and trash and every few days someone is supposed to shovel those scraps into the truck with the rest of the good meat. If that isn’t distressing enough, the meat that falls on the floor will be picked up, dusted off, and put back into the grinder and the sausage meat also gets stored in huge piles that are kept under leaky ceilings that are overrun with rats, so it’s filled with rodent feces and horrifying amounts of bacteria. The Jungle gave exposure to the filth of the meatpacking industry, so investigations were launched and commissioners called for the secretary of agriculture to make rules requiring the ‘cleanliness and wholesomeness of animal products.’ To obtain USDA federal inspection, the establishment must apply to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service for a grant of inspection to become an official establishment for meat and/or poultry. In addition, the applicant must specify the meat processing activities that need inspection.
Another big concern was the working standards that all of the employees were exposed to daily and what that meant for worker safety. The workers that had to push carts of meat had a dangerous job because of the uneven floors and the instability of the carts. Sinclair writes that once a worker wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way of an out of control cart and was crushed to death against the factory wall. In addition to that hazard, the men who process animal bones for fertilizer work in the most atrocious smell with vats full of chemicals. Occasionally they fall into these chemicals and die. Often, there is nothing more than bone to retrieve. Today, organizations like the USDA and OSHA have gotten involved the safety of the workers and the conditions in the plants and claim to have made vast improvements to worker safety in meat packing plants by implementing better safety tools to reduce stress and strain on workers such as steel toe shoes, no cut aprons, knives designed with safety features, hearing protection, cut resistant gloves, and hard hats. Rates of illness and injury in meat and poultry processing fell to an estimated 5.7 cases for every 100 full-time workers in 2013 from 9.8 in 2004. And while the statistics show improvement, there is always another story. The GAO listed multiple challenges in gathering data, including workers fearful for their jobs are reluctant to report injuries and illnesses, and employers financially motivated to undercount those instances. ‘We should have no confidence about industry’s assertions about their injury rates’ said Celeste Monforton, an expert in occupational safety and health. Also “administration of first aid does not have to be reported to regulators, and injured workers are often given aspirin or hot compresses and sent back to the processing line” said Monforton, a professorial lecturer at Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Lastly lack of regulation was what caused for the egregious conditions in the meat processing plants. President Roosevelt overcame meat packer opposition and created the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. The law authorized inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop any bad or mislabeled meat from leaving the plant. The inspectors at the processing plants in 1904 were appointed at the request of the meatpacking management, and they also have very little authority. Inspectors who objected to the bad meat got immediately replaced at the meatpackers request. Sinclair writes that there is a government official at the plant to check the pig glands to make sure that they don’t have tuberculosis, but if you talk to him, he is happy to look away from his work, even though dozens of carcasses will go unchecked. Today, as mentioned previously, there are many new laws and regulations that were passed to fix the lamentable standards that were expressed in The Jungle.
The release of The Jungle helped prompt the public outrage that led to legislation that would regulate and sanitize the meat packing facilities. His publication was a blessing in disguise because it is likely that the repulsing conditions in meat packing facilities would have gone on for longer and many more people would have died as a result. There should no longer be spoiled meat, rodent feces, and human remains in the meat we consume today thanks to Sinclair. Upton Sinclair once said ‘I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.’
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The Jungle by Upton Sinclair gave a very harrowing insight into the meatpacking industry during the early nineteen hundreds. Chapter after chapter I read some pretty revolting things such as […]