Snack Manufacturer Fined More Than $140K For Breaking Child Labor Laws

Monogram Meat Snacks was slapped with a $140,164 fine after a Chandler, Minnesota factory run by the company was found in violation of child labor laws. The manufacturer is a subsidiary of Monogram Food Solutions LLC, which operates 13 factories across seven states and produces items like Wild Bill's Jerky, Bull's Snack Sticks, and Butterball Smoked Turkey Sticks.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the company had 11 or more children between the ages of 15 and 17 years old working at its Minnesota factory. Underage employees were even tasked with operating dangerous machinery. During an investigation that began in March 2023, the Labor Department temporarily banned the company from shipping its meat and cheese products from the facility. In July 2023, the DoL initially fined the company $30,276, after it was revealed that the facility employed two minors, aged 16 and 17. The additional civil penalty, which the company agreed to pay on October 5, comes following the discovery of nine more underage workers.

In a statement released back in July, a Monogram spokesperson maintained that the two teens who were initially found working at the factory landed their positions with fake identification. As NBC News reported at the time, the company expressed that it was voluntarily taking steps to prevent the situation from happening in the future and had agreed to hire a third-party consultant to ensure compliance with child labor laws.

The Department of Labor is cracking down on child labor violations

Unfortunately, Monogram Meat Snacks' violations may be part of a growing trend. Since 2018, the Labor Department has seen a 69% increase in the illegal employment of children. Offending companies have allowed hundreds of minors to work in hazardous conditions. Earlier this year, the Biden administration expressed that it was initiating tougher crackdowns on the exploitation of children, which included the formation of a special task force focused on investigating child labor as well as increased penalties served to companies that were found in violation of the law.

In February of this year, a sanitation firm was fined $1.5 million for employing over 100 children, between the ages of 13 and 17, to work overnight shifts cleaning meat processing plants. A few months later, three McDonald's franchises were fined a total penalty of over $212,000 for child labor violations. In September, federal officials announced that they were launching an investigation into two of the country's largest poultry producers, Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms, following reports that the companies employed migrant children as young as 13 in their plants.

In reference to the Monogram case, the DoL's Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said, "This case's resolution makes clear the Department of Labor will not tolerate companies seeking to profit by illegally employing children." Nanda added that the department "will continue to utilize every tool and legal strategy at our disposal to keep young people safe."