chrisdorney /
Homeland Security

Feds Investigate Possible Child Trafficking in Meat Plants

Jan. 25, 2023
A new Homeland Security investigation is picking up where DOL-PSSI one left off.

The Dept. of Homeland Security is investigating whether 50 children — some as young as 13 — who were performing third-shift sanitation at JBS Foods plants were victims of human trafficking, according a story exclusive to NBC News. DHS appears to be picking up where an earlier Dept. of Labor investigation left off.

However, there was no indication DHS is investigating the company that hired the children, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), which was identified in earlier stories. Nor did the report implicate JBS, although two of the meat company’s plants -- in Grand Island, Neb., and Worthington, Minn. -- were mentioned.

PSSI admitted in court filings it hired the children but attributed it to “rogue individuals” who presented fake identification with Social Security numbers that were verified by the federal government’s E-Verify system, according to NBC. “Instead, said two DHS officials, DHS is investigating to rule out the possibility that outside traffickers may have forced children to work for PSSI and profited off their labor,” said the report.

In December we reported PSSI agreed to hire an outside compliance officer and take other steps to ensure that it’s not using underage workers, following an agreement with the Dept. of Labor. DOL found the third-party cleaning service had hired at least 31 individuals between 13 and 17 years old.

The NBC report raised that number to 50 children working for PSSI in at least five locations.

Our earlier report also mentioned plants owned by George’s Inc. and Greater Omaha Packing Co.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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