In 1906 Upton Sinclair, a muckraker, published his novel The Jungle. In The Jungle, Sinclair reveals the horrible working conditions in the meat factories; also, he describes how unsanitary the facilities were, especially where the meat would be stored. Thanks to Sinclair and his novel, The Jungle, the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act were both passed by congress shortly after the publication of his novel. It has been over a century since the novel was originally published and many people believe that the meat industry has improved greatly, and that it will continue to improve with the years. On the other hand, however, many people argue that not much has really changed since Sinclair’s days. Today, the quality of the meat has improved greatly; however, the working conditions are still very poor and the corporate bosses still take advantage of their employees.
The quality of the meat has increased greatly since Sinclair’s day. In The Jungle, Sinclair states how the meat would be stored in filthy places and how sometimes rats would be grinded into the ground beef. Disgusting, right? But thanks to Sinclair and his novel, The Jungle, that is no longer the case. In the article “Federal Inspection Makes America’s Meat Safe” by Kerri B. Harris, Harris states that: “Daily inspections of processing plants and pecking establishments by U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employees ensure the safety of American meat.” Also, in the article “America’s Meat Industry” it states that: “… new technologies in meat plants have helped reduce bacteria levels dramatically.” The author of that article continues on stating that since 1999, incidents of E.coli have dropped over 80 percent and that Salmonella in ground beef has dropped by 75 percent since 1998. With all the new technology in the factories and the daily inspections of the meat by certified officials, people can be more at ease when they go to the grocery store and buy meat.
Even though the quality of the meat has improved greatly; the work place itself has not changed much. The owners of the meat industries still only care about profits; they will do anything that will help maximize their profits. One of the techniques they use to increase their profits is clustering all the workers close to each other and speeding up the pace of the production line. The factories’ workers’ working tool is a sharp knife and with all the workers so close to each other and working at a fast pace, it is normal for many of them to get cut by their own knife or a co-worker’s knife. It is not that the workers are careless, but the speed of the production line is so fast that they are only concentrating on not falling behind. In an article written by Eric Schlosser, “The Most Dangerous Job”, Schlosser is invited to a meat processing factory to observe how the factory functions. Upon entering the factory, Schlosser had to put on knee-high boots and he had to tuck his pants in the boot because of all the blood on the ground. Schlosser was also forced to put on heavy-metal safety gear to reduce the chances of him getting cut by one of the workers’ knife. All of the workers have to wear the same safety gear that Schlosser was wearing; but, the workers still continue to receive cuts due to how closely they are working to each other and the fast pace of the production line. What is the whole point if wearing all that gear if it is not all that effective? What the workers really need is to have more room around them so that they could work more freely and for the production line to slow down so that the workers could be more cautious with every cut they make. This would lower the injury rate greatly; and by lowering the injury rate, the companies would also be making more money because the workers will not have to take days off due to injuries and the factories would not have to pay for worker’s composition.