If you read on the issue, the primary names you'll come across are Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr., but the republican party as a whole post-Roosevelt is responsible for the sickening state of the meat packing industry- which we'll get into. Roosevelt was good though. He established the first food safety laws. Every Republican since Roosevelt is responsible for deaths and human consumption of people.
Other books have already explained the gory details of this in length- the quantity of human beings who've been ground up, packaged and sold as ground beef, in lard tubs, etc. "Fast Food Nation" "The Jungle" and so on. Good books. If you want something to scare you before bed or make you not hungry, read them. Hundreds of pages of accurate gore confirmed by the federal government. So I don't feel I need to delve too deeply into that part of it.
Instead, I'll say only what applies politically here, which is this: the meat packing industry is the most dangerous job in the United States. Roughly a third of all employees experience complications on the job severe enough to require medical attention. Most of these are just things like losing fingers, but a good number of them are limbs, and various fatal diseases. Additionally, that third doesn't include employee deaths. That number is huge also.
Where this becomes a political issue is this: the meatpacking industry maintains it's status as being the job that kills and maims more human beings than any other profession in existence via the republican party alone. Only reason. And additionally, statistically speaking, the more conservative the republican, the more the individual struggled politically to achieve further deregulation of the meatpacking industry.
And a relationship between the Republican party and slaughterhouses seems mildly farfetched, so I'll explain. The link is this: unusually wealthy fast food chains depend on the cheapest possible meat to maximize net profits. Saving a penny on every ten or fifteen pounds of meat generates millions more in profits every day for some of these chains. And these pennies are saved by establishing ridiculous working conditions. A crew comprised of the smallest workforce feasible has to transform a live cow into packaged meat every few seconds to meet their quota. That quota can approach a million pounds per day. In order to come anywhere near that quota, this understaffed crew has to take a live cow and convert it to an upside down dangling slab of meat every few seconds. That's a lot of bulky, roped-up swinging cows. And because the crew is so understaffed and overworked, they're way too busy to notice a giant 300lb meat slab swinging their way. It's not uncommon (daily) for employees to be unsuspectingly slammed into by one of these swinging cows. In some cases these collisions have knocked employees into various grinders, vats, and machinery. This is how people keep losing limbs and being slaughtered and packaged with the rest of the meat.
But the question still remains: why is it such
an issue of concern for the right wing Republicans? The answer is this: the fast food industry- demanding these pennies saved- donates more money to far right Republicans than practically any other entity. The reason for pooling money into the Republican party is because the Democrats, Clinton in particular, was fighting for ethical changes in the industry, primarily just safety standards. And the Republicans were being funded by the industry, and therefore, opposing these changes. Newt Gingrich in particular, as Speaker of the House, vigorously protested new safety standards and professed overwhelming support for deregulating the meatpacking industry all together. Apparently the third of all employees requiring medical attention wasn't nearly enough, and Newt's people eating accidentally packaged people quota hadn't been met. The democrats felt change was overdue, but Newt was receiving more money from the industry than any other congressman and congress was controlled by the Republican party anyway. And almost all of them were being heavily funded to ensure that the loyal financial reporters were getting their reward.
And it goes way farther than just funding congressmen. Bush and Reagan ended up appointing the regulatory positions to people in
the business. Their secretaries of agriculture and appointed head of the USDA inspection service were president of the American Meatpackers Association, president of the National Cattleman's Association, and people in the hog business. And just as soon as these people were appointed, the USDA "somehow" stopped inspecting the meatpacking industries with any integrity. The industry funding climbs all the way to the top of the Republican ladder, and the end result is an even more disgusting meatpacking industry.
Yay for Republicans and horror! Hip hip hurray!!! The many Democratic proposals to clean this up, particularly Clinton's, were thrown out by the Republican congress and then made worse by Republican legislation.
And then it gets even better. Republicans cut the school budgets and suddenly the company that provides meat at the cheapest rate becomes the supplier to the schools for children's lunches. Cattle King Packing Company ended up being the supplier. And they supplied their very best diseased cattle. The cows were already dead well before they were brought to the slaughterhouse to be "slaughtered." And then they grind in bone fragments, spinal cord, feces, and various organs into the mix as to not waste any of the pre-dead cattle's rotting corpse. How is this even possible? Deregulation of the industry by the republican party. But that meat only went to the public schools, where the congressmen's children were not, so there's no harm involved. Yes, there were tons of cases of E. coli and tests showed crazy high amounts of fecal matter within the meat.
And until the Democratic proposals are adopted, raw ground beef is to be considered potential biohazardous material. It doesn't have to be. It's disturbing that it is. And the Republican argument to all of this is as follows: "We don't need some socialist coming in here and trying to tell the industry what it does and doesn't need."