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Tyson and Perdue face child labor investigations for allegedly contracting migrant teens to work dangerous positions at meat packing plants

Federal probes into Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms are being conducted, according to the New York Post on Monday, over allegations that migrant children were employed illegally in hazardous roles at their respective meat packing facilities.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor affirmed that inquiries into a Tyson facility and a Perdue plant in Virginia are underway, though no further details can be released while investigations are still in progress.

Following an exposé in the New York Times Magazine last week about a 14-year-old migrant boy who allegedly lost his arm in a deboning machine at a Perdue slaughterhouse facility in Accomack County, Virginia, the Department of Labor has initiated an investigation.

Perdue currently operates six facilities in Virginia, while Tyson Foods has one plant based in Temperanceville.

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According to Times reporter Hannah Dreier, the Perdue-operated plant was “full of migrant kids working in violation of child labor laws.”

“The whole town heard about the accident. But even teachers and police kept it quiet,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

A Guatemalan teen reportedly worked at a facility from midnight to 5 a.m., having obtained the position over a year ago with false documents indicating he was in his twenties.

The Department of Labor’s investigation into this matter has not been disclosed to Perdue, who released a statement on their website addressing the child labor allegations.

“We are appalled by these recent allegations as they are not representative of who we are as a company and what we stand for,” Perdue stated in part. “All associates we hire must provide documentation to confirm compliance with hiring requirements and authorization to work in the United States. Once an associate accepts an offer, we enter this information into E-verify for employment authorization confirmation and I-9 compliance.”

“We have stringent, long-standing policies in place to ensure the safety of everyone working in our facilities, including robust measures to prevent minors from engaging in hazardous work in violation of the law,” the company added.

Perdue announced that they intend to launch a thorough audit from an independent party concerning the prevention and protection of child labor.

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They also confirmed their willingness to cooperate with any government investigation relating to this issue. In response to the New York Times article, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley addressed a letter to Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King, seeking a response.

Tyson Foods did not provide any comment on the matter when asked for their opinion.

“I am alarmed by new reports that Tyson Foods has actively participated in dangerous and illegal child labor practices,” Hawley said. “Any company that employs, facilitates, encourages, or excuses child labor must be held to account. In light of the facts, you owe the American people an explanation as to Tyson’s child-labor practices.”

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Joe Messina

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