Upton Sinclair intended his novel The Jungle to be an exposé of industrial labor, but the book had the unexpected result of moving Congress for the first time to regulate food safety. In researching his story of immigrant workers in Chicago’s meatpacking plants, Sinclair witnessed and described the dangerous, unsanitary practices of slaughterhouses and meatpackers. His revelations created an international uproar, prompting Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, to introduce legislation that Congress approved as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906.
I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.
Upton Sinclair, “What Life Means to Me,” Cosmopolitan, October 1906