Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry

Gail A. Eisnitz
Slaughterhouse is the first book of its kind to explore the impact that unprecedented changes in the meatpacking industry over the last twenty-five years — particularly industry consolidation, increased line speeds, and deregulation — have had on workers, animals, and consumers. It is also the first time ever that workers have spoken publicly about what’s really taking place behind the closed doors of America’s slaughterhouses.In this new paperback edition, author Gail A. Eisnitz brings the story up to date since the book’s original publication. She describes the ongoing efforts by the Humane Farming Association to improve conditions in the meatpacking industry, media exposés that have prompted reforms resulting in multimillion dollar appropriations by Congress to try to enforce federal inspection laws, and a favorable decision by the Supreme Court to block construction of what was slated to be one of the largest hog factory farms in the country.Nonetheless, Eisnitz makes it clear that abuses continue and much work still needs to be done

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-12-10
Eisnitz's writing is short and clear, and easy to read, even if her subject is not. It is also largely composed of direct quotes and affidavits of real people working for the meat industry in one aspect or another. Compelling evidence, horrifying truths. One of the most important consumer advocate books ever written. The spiritual sequel to The Jungle, in which everything gets worse than it was. It is difficult to believe nearly everything inside - but all of the evidence is so widely available, that it is harder to deny.

An awesome book, in the biblical sense - this story of greed and disregard for human welfare is truly awful.

EDIT: It is unfathomable just how terrible things have become in the meat industry - for the animals of course, and also the people who work in it, and the people who consume its products. Here are a few statements from the book that have stuck with me...some of which are more haunting than others.

A summary of the problem with the USDA's role in protecting anyone:
" “Congress has assigned USDA two radically opposing missions,” explained GAP’s Tom Devine over the phone. “The very same officials who are charged with promoting te sale of agricultural products are also supposed to protect the consumers from filth and unscrupulous practices.” As a result of the USDA’s duplicitous mandate and its primary focus on marketing, the department’s ranks have long been filled with industry leaders who have demonstrated their ablates at increasing industry profits. " - pg. 175

A comment on the industries regard for the people it destroys:
"With nearly thirty six injuries or illnesses for every one hundred workers, meat packing is the most dangerous industry in the United States. In fact, a worker’s chances of suffering an injury or an illness in a meat plant are six times greater than if that same person worked in a coal mine...Disabled workers, like many of those above, find it impossible to ever work again. Drained of their usefulness to the slaughterhouse, they’re cast aside, reminders of a system that places nearly as little value on human life as it does on animal life." - pg. 197

A clinical description of the horrors of hen recycling:
"After a year of producing nearly an egg a day, the survivors are gassed or ground up alive to be fed back to other chickens; slaughtered for use in the school luch program or in pet food, says Feedstuffs, an industry trade magazine; or “recycled” to spend to another laying cycle in the crowded cages. To shorten the hens’ natural resting period between laying cycles, farmers deprive “recycled” birds of all food for from five to fifteen days. The practice, called forced molting, shocks the hens into abruptly shedding their feathers, and hastens the beginning of a new and simultaneous laying cycle. During this process, about a third of the birds die from starvation and acute stress. The fate of the emaciated survivors: another laying cycle in the battery cage." - pg. 126

and a succinct demand for decency from one good man, Senator Robert Byrd:
“Federal law is being ignored,” he said. “Animal cruelty abounds. It is infuriating. The barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated…such insensitivity is insidious and dangerous. Life must be dealt with humanely in a civilized society.” - pg. 217
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