PSSI and Feds Settle Child-Labor Case

Dec. 7, 2022
Third-party cleaning service will have to appoint a compliance officer after being caught using young teenagers to clean meat plants.

A third-party factory cleaning service will have to hire an outside compliance officer and take other steps to ensure that it’s not using underage workers, following an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), which services mostly meat & poultry processing plants, entered into a consent decree with the Labor Department following an investigation that showed it had hired at least 31 individuals between 13 and 17 years old. The U.S. Department of Justice secured a temporary injunction Nov. 13 from a federal judge in Nebraska ordering PSSI to stop using underage workers and not to obstruct the federal investigation.

That investigation allegedly showed that the youths suffered injuries on the job, including caustic burns from cleaning chemicals, when working at two plants owned by JBS USA. After the temporary order was granted, further investigation revealed that the number of underage persons used by PSSI as plant cleaning crews was at least 50, and that they worked at facilities owned by two other meat processors: George’s Inc. and Greater Omaha Packing Co.

The consent decree was entered Dec. 6 by the district judge who granted the original temporary injunction. It will require PSSI to hire a third-party consultant or compliance specialist within 90 days to provide quarterly training to all management personnel for a period of three years and annually thereafter. The name and contact information for this specialist must be included in all of PSSI’s contracts with customers going forward.

Other provisions of the consent decree include: unannounced inspections to at least six facilities every quarter for three years; mandatory notification by PSSI whenever it terminates an employee under 18 years of age; and sanctions, including possible termination, for management employees who violate the order.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

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