8 Facts About Theodore Roosevelt: Where’s the Beef?

Elkhorn: ALL NEW

6. Where’s the Beef?

On your plate! And thanks to Theodore Roosevelt it’s gone through rigorous safety and health inspections. In 1906, Upton Sinclair, an author committed to exposing government and corporate corruption, finally attained success when his novel The Jungle, was published. The book, which detailed the horrific conditions of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, became a worldwide sensation, translated into 17 languages, read by millions, including Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt.

Appalled by the scenes in the book, T.R. asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate meatpacking practices. When they returned with a report stating all was well, and Sinclair’s scenes were false, T.R. was suspicious due to the department’s political ties to the industry. So, he sent out a secret delegation—the labor commissioner and a social worker—to meatpacking plants, to investigate for themselves. And they came back with a far different report on the safety of food in America—stories of filthy butchering facilities and putrid meat marked as fresh, repulsive conditions that supported the research Sinclair conducted to create his work of fiction.

That same year, T.R. signed the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act into law, despite emphatic protests from the meat industry.

Fun fact: Theodore Roosevelt and Upton Sinclair met at the White House, and though the two men did not hit it off personally, one thing they could agree on was that the country’s food production conditions and practices needed to be cleaned up.