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Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms face federal probe over possible child labor violations

Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms are facing federal investigations into whether migrant children are among those cleaning slaughterhouses owned by two of the nation’s biggest poultry producers.

The Department of Labor launched its inquiries after a published report detailed migrant kids working overnight for contractors in the companies’ facilities on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. A New York Times Magazine story detailed children cleaning blood, grease and feathers from equipment with acid and pressure hoses.

“There are currently U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigations open at Perdue and Tyson Foods. No additional details can be provided as the investigations are ongoing,” a DOL spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

A spokesperson for Perdue said the company was “appalled” by the allegations. 

“We take the legal employment and safety of each individual working in our facilities very seriously and have strict, longstanding policies in place for Perdue associates to prevent minors from working hazardous jobs in violation of the law,” the spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. 

The Times’ account included details of a 14-year-old boy maimed while cleaning a conveyor belt in a deboning area at a Perdue slaughterhouse in rural Virgina.

“Tyson Foods has not been made aware of any investigation, and therefore, cannot comment,” a spokesperson for the Springdale, Arkansas-based company stated in an email.

The investigations come six months after the DOL fined one of the nation’s biggest sanitation services providers $1.5 million for employing at least 102 kids — from 13 to 17 years old — found to be working overnight shifts at 13 meat processing plants in eight states.

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