Two leading poultry companies in the United States are currently under investigation due to issues related to the hiring of migrant children in their respective workforces, as well as acts of negligence leading to grave injuries to underaged employees.

On Saturday, September 23rd, Solicitor Seema Nanda of the Department of Labor declared that the investigation into Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods will look into whether these firms are liable for illegal labor practices conducted by their respective contractors.

Nanda remarked that brands may no longer use ignorance of child labor within their supply chains as an excuse, and that those in the upper links of a supply chain need to hold both subcontractors and staffing firms accountable for any incidents involving minors, especially those from migrant communities.

Damning Evidence

The New York Times Magazine released an investigative report on Monday, September 18th, which declared how a number of prominent food and agricultural firms knowingly hired children as young as fourteen as cleaning staff working the night shift at their facilities. 

The report showed that a sizable number of these children sustained critical injuries while working, and a sixteen-year-old worker in Mississippi who was trapped in a poultry farm conveyor belt subsequently died of their injuries. Indeed, the Labor Department reports that the illegal employment of minors has gone up by 69% over a five-year period.

Internal Investigations

As of press time, Tyson Foods has not replied to any requests for comment. However, Perdue Farms made a statement as to how it is prepared to show evidence that it does not condone minors working in potentially hazardous areas, adding that it has long implemented a number of strict labor policies against the hiring of children for its workforce in any capacity.

Perdue Farms also stated that it holds its suppliers and subcontractors to similar standard, though a third-party audit of its policies on child labor is currently underway.