Meat Blog

After reading the article “The Way of All Flesh,” written by Ted Conover, I gained an understanding of how the meat-packing industry handles cattle (beef). Conover discusses the process of the meat being slaughtered and inspected at each phase in the plant from his POV as a new meat inspector for the USDA. Workers thoroughly inspect the carcass for any irregularities, such as tonsils, or any serious infection. Tonsils are considered “specific risk materials” (SRM) and must be disposed of. If the cattle show any sign of infection, a blue tag must be attached so a veterinarian can examine them. Though the article was highly informative, I was taken aback by some of the contents that were mentioned, such as the cattle being shot in the head with a captive-bolt gun. The description of the aftermath was quite disturbing to read. I do not consume beef often, but after reading the article, I will feel a little bit uncomfortable knowing how this piece of beef ended up on my plate. Not to mention, the amount of Manuel labor it takes to be a meat inspector has shocked me. Conover detailed the excruciating pain he felt in his hands and arms after the first few weeks of work. The turnover rate in the meat industry is exceptionally high and physical labor can be a leading cause. 

2 thoughts on “Meat Blog

  1. LIV2x

    After digesting Ted Conover’s “The Way of All Flesh,” I’ve gained insights into the beef industry’s procedures. Conover, a USDA meat inspector, details the meticulous examination of carcasses for irregularities, disposing of specific risk materials like tonsils. Cattle with signs of infection receive a blue tag for veterinarian assessment. However, the use of captive-bolt guns to dispatch cattle, as described, is disconcerting.

    Though beef is not often on the dinner list, the article makes me uneasy about its origin. Conover’s account of the manual labor and physical strain experienced by meat inspectors, leading to a high turnover rate, is eye-opening.

  2. Michael Krondl

    A nice thorough description. It’s always interesting to see who focuses on the animals and who the workers. Reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s comment that he aimed for America’s heart and hit it’s stomach instead.


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