In Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," how did the meat packing industry treat meat that smelled bad?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 14, the author describes some of the swindles the industry used on spoiled meat in graphic detail.  Generally speaking, it was the "custom" that "whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage".  Meat that smelled bad would be "rubbed up with soda to take away the smell" and sold "to be eaten on free-lunch counters".  Also, for meat "with an odor so bad that a man could hardly bear to be in the same room with (it)", a procedure was devised whereby the meat was injected with a hollow needle and pumped full of a strong pickle that would eradicate the smell.  Another method of salvaging bad meat was to extract the bone, around which the bad part was largely centered, and burn the area with a white-hot iron.  If the meat was too far gone to be camoflaged by any of these devices, it was sent to be cut up into tiny bits and mixed with other meat, to be sold as quality products to an unsuspecting public.