JBS USA creates JBS Sanitation following child labor investigation of subcontractor PSSI
“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."
GREELEY, Colo. — JBS USA announced the creation of JBS Sanitation, a full-service food safety and food plant sanitation company that will provide in-house sanitation services for JBS USA and Pilgrim's facilities.
According to a company press release, JBS USA will immediately begin the transition of 10 of its facilities to JBS Sanitation, with the expectation of moving more facilities to the new company should third-party service providers be unable to meet JBS USA's audit and compliance standards.
A federal investigation found that subcontractor Packer’s Sanitation Services Inc. reportedly employed over 100 children illegally, with 22 minors found working at Worthington's JBS plant.
PSSI, a Wisconsin-based company that provided cleaning services to meat and poultry producers including JBS USA and Tyson Food Inc., paid more than $1.5 million in penalties as a result of the case.
JBS announced in December that it was ending its contract with PSSI at numerous facilities following the investigation, including the locations cited in the Department of Labor’s complaint. Those locations include Worthington, Grand Island, Nebraska, and Greeley, Colorado.
“In light of the troubling allegations that have occurred in the food sanitation sector, JBS USA has made the decision to create a company that can provide the highest levels of food safety and quality assurance, while also adopting the same high standards for compliance and employment verification that we adhere to in the hiring of our own JBS USA workforce,” said JBS USA CEO Wesley Batista Filho.
In partnership with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, JBS Sanitation will provide competitive wages and benefits, creating hundreds of union jobs across the country. All JBS Sanitation team members and their child dependents will be eligible to receive a tuition-free community college education as a part of the JBS USA Better Futures program.
“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, UFCW International president.
JBS Sanitation stated that it will adhere to the highest standards for food safety, sanitation, employment verification and compliance. JBS USA and Pilgrim’s will continue to utilize the services of 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.
JBS has appointed Wilson Herrera, a 17-year industry veteran with extensive experience in human resources and compliance matters, as president of JBS Sanitation.
Herrera most recently led corporate HR for JBS USA Pork, the second largest pork processor in the U.S. He has also served as chairman of the JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Sanitation Committee, which was tasked with identifying solutions in response to allegations of the use of child labor by third-party sanitation providers.
To further ensure the allegations of the past do not occur in the future, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s have established an internal whistleblower hotline, where employees can confidentially report any suspicious activity regarding the presence of underaged workers.
The company has also provided local school districts with access to the JBS Ethics Line for confidential reporting regarding suspected child labor incidents.