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The Murderous Poultry Industry

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When we think about the poultry industry, it tends to focus on the terrible treatment of the animals. After all, that’s been where the publicity is, given that it is the animal rights people who push this stuff. Fair enough, they are the ones exposing it. But a very good rule of thumb in the meat industry is that where the animals are treated poorly, so are the workers. And thus we have another recent death of a child in American industry.

A Mississippi poultry plant’s failure to follow safety protocols led to the death of a 16-year-old worker who was pulled into a machine, federal regulators said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found numerous safety violations in its investigation of the July workplace accident that caused the death of Duvan Pérez, a Guatemalan teenager and contract worker at the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Hattiesburg, the agency said in a news release.

“Mar-Jac Poultry is aware of how dangerous the machinery they use can be when safety standards are not in place to prevent serious injury and death,” said Kurt Petermeyer, a regional administrator for OSHA. “The company’s inaction has directly led to this terrible tragedy, which has left so many to mourn this child’s preventable death.”

After the accident, Labor Department officials said Pérez’s death offered a reminder that children remain vulnerable to exploitation in the U.S. workplace.

OSHA did not name Pérez, but the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity — a nonprofit focused on issues related to immigration — previously identified Pérez as a contract worker at the plant.

Mar-Jac did not immediately respond to phone and email messages requesting comment. The company, which has facilities in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, has 15 business days to contest OSHA’s findings.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has also opened a child labor investigation into the plant.

In 2022, the Department found that more than 3,800 children had been working illegally at 835 companies in various industries. In April, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Labor Department had reported a 69% increase since 2018 in the number of children being employed illegally in the U.S.

Of course none of this has to happen. But what about wresting a tiny bit more profit out of the thing? Won’t someone think about the CEO?

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