A Wisconsin food safety company has paid $1.5 million in civil penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found it illegally employed 102 children in hazardous jobs.
The DOL said Friday that Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Ltd. in Kieler, Wis.-based had children ages 13 to 17 working in hazardous conditions during night shifts at 13 meat processing plants in eight states.
The agency said at least three children employed by the company suffered injuries.
The minors worked with dangerous chemicals and were ordered to clean dangerous meat processing equipment such as back saws, breast saws and head splitters.
The company paid the civil penalties Thursday, the DOL said.
The department called the child labor violations “systematic”; and constituted a “company-wide failure” by the company.
The federal investigation began in August 2022 and a federal complaint was filed in November.
The U.S. District Court in Nebraska issued a consent order and judgment in early December, and the company agreed to take steps to comply with child labor laws at its operations across the country.
The DOL said that when government officials arrived with warrants after the investigation, adults on the ground tried to derail efforts to investigate the company’s employment practices.