Global meat giant JBS has created an internal sanitation service for its U.S. slaughterhouses in response to a former contractor's use of child labor.
JBS Sanitation will immediately take over cleaning at 10 facilities, which in Minnesota includes the plant in Worthington.
Federal authorities previously said Wisconsin-based sanitation company Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) hired more than 100 minors to clean slaughterhouses across the country. JBS, which also owns the Pilgrim's Pride brand and poultry plant in Cold Spring, Minn., cut ties with the company this spring.
The new sanitation company was created "in light of the troubling allegations that have occurred in the food sanitation sector," said Wesley Batista Filho, chief executive of JBS USA, in a news release Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Labor fined PSSI $1.5 million in February for violating federal labor laws. Cleaning slaughterhouses is considered hazardous, and only those 18 and older can hold such jobs.
"The revelations about child labor among subcontractors in meatpacking plants are simply unacceptable, and it has been heartening to see JBS USA's willingness to proactively move to address this egregious situation," said Marc Perrone, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers labor union, in a statement.
JBS USA and Pilgrim's may still hire third-party sanitation providers "only if they can meet the same employment verification standards used by JBS USA and can verify compliance through a JBS-approved third-party auditor," the company said.