June 28, 2011
“Meat Inspection,” by Gabriel Kolko, is a short story concerning the nature and processes of the meat packing industry and the laws that emerged to maintain the safety of their facilities and the products before human consumption during the Progressive Era. In the early twentieth century, the publishing of a novel by Upton Sinclair containing the truth behind meat packing corporations changed American food industries to this day and revealed the nature and movement of Progressivism.
The demand for meat inspection laws began with America’s involvement with the European export market. Since the European market was vital to America’s economy, it was the influence of America’s meat packing industry who was the first true supporters of early meat inspection laws to satisfy European regulations. With European nations banning American meat due to diseases, other markets followed suit causing an enormous financial burden on the meat packing industry, which in turn taught the American meat packers that it was beneficial to have regulations to keep themselves in business. The meat packing industry claimed it did them more harm than good to sell diseased beef, which led to the development of an early meat inspection agency, the Commissioner of Agriculture, in various states that reported such diseases. The Act of 1891 satisfied other markets including the Europeans with American regulations and continued the rapid growth of the meat packing industry.
More support for early meat inspection laws came about from a young man’s face to face experience with the meat packing industry that might have caused more concern to the American public. The young man was known as Upton Sinclair and traveled to Chicago to write about the life of the working class. Sinclair attacked the working conditions of the meat packing industry with newspaper articles but the situation was left unnoticed...
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