Synopses & Reviews
You may be getting more than just beef in that burger. This shocking book shows what USDA Approved really means.
I'd been documenting and exposing animal abuse for nearly 15 years. But nothing -- not the grisly cockfights nor the pathetic puppy mills, not the ritual animal sacrifices nor horrific livestock auctions -- could have prepared me for what I'd encounter once I ventured behind the closed doors of America's slaughterhouses.
So writes award-winning author Gail A. Eisnitz in Slaughterhouse, a highly critical and all-too-real tour through some of America's major livestock processors. With powerful descriptions, reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's masterpiece The Jungle, hers is a frightening look at where our beef, pork, and poultry are mass-produced on disassembly lines that run 24-hours a day. And where U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors -- who are supposed to be assuring the public a safe food supply and protecting the animals from inhumane treatment -- ignore federal regulations, take payola, and turn a blind eye to the horrors that occur each day.
Often safety standards are simply ignored. As the speed of the kill lines that prepare thousands of animals for slaughter is increased to boost productivity, more and more semiconscious and frightened animals pass through -- their flailing limbs lashing out and injuring workers before being brutally hacked off. But the kill line keeps going because the pressure to mass produce is intensifying to the point that human life is placed on par with that of the animals.
Eisnitz includes interviews with numerous slaughterhouse workers who speak candidly of their experiences on the front line of one of the nation's largestagribusinesses. While documenting many instances of worker cruelty toward live animals, Eisnitz sees these employees as victims of the system. The meat industry, she contends, is a giant, monolith that only rewards speed and productivity, while penalizing those who take time to do the right thing.
Slaughterhouse will outrage, horrify, and disgust everyone concerned about animal welfare, human rights, consumer safety, and government regulatory practices. Ninety-one years ago, Upton Sinclair brought attention to slaughterhouse atrocities, and now Eisnitz is here to report that they've only gotten worse.
With powerful descriptions reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's masterpiece "The Jungle", this book takes a shocking, frightening look at where our beef, poultry, and pork are "mass-produced". Photos.
What started out, with a single complaint about a Florida slaughterhouse turned into a tale of intrigue and suspense as investigator Gail A. Eisnitz unearthed more startling information about the meat and poultry Americans consume. This shocking story follows Eisnitz as she becomes submerged in a slaughterhouse subculture, venturing deeper and deeper into the lives of the workers. As the stakes become higher in her David-and-Goliath-type battle, this determined young woman finds herself courageously taking on one of America's most powerful industries. Slaughterhouse takes readers on a frightening but true journey from one slaughterhouse to another throughout the country. Along the way we encounter example after example of mistreated animals...intolerable working conditions...lax standards...the slow, painful deaths of children killed as a result of eating contaminated meat...the author's battle with the major television networks...and a dangerously corrupt federal agency that chooses to do nothing rather than risk the wrath of agribusiness...before the whole affair is blown wide open in this powerful expose. In an effort to understand how such rampant violations could occur right under the noses of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors - the individuals charged with enforcing humane regulations in slaughterhouses - Eisnitz examines the inspectors' track record for enforcing meat and poultry safety regulations, their primary responsibility. Following a long paper trail, she learns that contaminated meat and poultry are pouring out of federally inspected slaughterhouses and, not surprisingly, deaths from foodborne illness have quadrupled in the United States in the lastfifteen years. Determined to tell the whole story, Eisnitz then examines the physical price paid by employees working in one of America's most dangerous industries. In addition to suffering disfiguring injuries and crippling repetitive motion disorders, employees describe tyrannical working conditions in which grievances are met with severe reprisals or dismissals.
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 whats really taking place behind the closed doors of Americas slaughterhouses.
In this new paperback edition, author Gail A. Eisnitz brings the story up to date since the books 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
About the Author
Gail A. Eisnitz (San Rafael, CA), winner of the Albert Schweitzer Medal for outstanding achievement in animal welfare, is the chief investigator for the Humane Farming Association. Her work has resulted in exposés by ABCs Good Morning America, PrimeTime Live, and Dateline NBC, and her interviews have been heard on more than 1,000 radio stations. Her work has been featured in such newspapers as The New York Times, Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press, Texas Monthly, Denver Business Journal, Los Angeles Times, and US News & World Report. Eisnitz was the driving force behind a front-page exposé in The Washington Post documenting slaughterhouse atrocities. The Washington Post reporter later described Eisnitz as "the most courageous investigator Ive ever seen." The story was one of the highest reader-response pieces ever run by The Washington Post.