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Meat Packing Industry

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Rights and responsibilities in the meatpacking industry

In the early twentieth century, at the height of the progressive movement, "Muckrakers" had uncovered many scandals and wrong doings in America, but none as big the scandals of Americas meatpacking industry. Rights and responsibilities were blatantly ignored by the industry in an attempt to turn out as much profit as possible. The meat packers did not care if poor working conditions led to sickness and death. They also did not care if the spoiled meat they sold was killing people. The following paper will discuss the many ways that rights and responsibilities were not being fulfilled by the meat packing industry.

At the turn of the twentieth century "Muckraking" had become a very popular practice. This was where "muckrakers" would bring major problems to the publics attention. One of the most powerful pieces done by a muckraker was the book "The Jungle", by Upton Sinclair. The book was written to show the horrible working and living conditions in the packing towns of Chicago, but what caused a major controversy was the filth that was going into Americas meat. As Sinclair later said in an interview about the book "I aimed at the publics heart and by accident hit them in the stomach."# The meat packing industry took no responsibility for producing safe and sanitary meat.

One reason for this problem was that there was no real inspection of the meat. A quote from "The Jungle" tells of a government inspector checking the hogs for Tuberculosis, "This government inspector did not have a manner of a man who was worked to death; he was apparently not haunted by a fear that the hog might get by before he had finished his testing. If you were a sociable person, he was quite willing to enter into conversation with you and to explain the deadly nature of the ptomaines which are found in tubercular pork; and while he was talking with you you could hardly be so ungrateful to notice that a dozen carcasses were passing him untouched."# This obviously led to tubercular meat being processed in the packing house. Another problem was the incredible lack of sanitation and the use of spoiled meat, another quote from "The Jungle" tells of how dirty it was in these plants "There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of mean and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go in the hoppers together."# There was nothing the packers would not do to make a profit, if meat went bad they would pickle it or make sausage out of it, "there was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white-it would be dosed with borax and glycerin, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption."# The Packers took no responsibilities for the sickness that these meats caused. It was not uncommon for people to die from sickness they had gotten from eating bad meat, this is also an issue in "The Jungle" when a young family member suddenly dies one morning, "it was the smoked sausage he had eaten that morning-which may have been made out of some of the tubercular pork that was condemned unfit for export."# Disease was also a factor for the workers,



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