Meat Slaughtering, Processing, and Packing – FLSA Child Labor Laws for 16 and 17 Year Olds


The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from employing any child under 18 years of age in the following occupations in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments, rendering plants, or wholesale, retail, or service establishments because they have been deemed to be particularly hazardous for them or detrimental to their health of well-being:

  • occupations on the killing floor, in curing cellars, and in hide cellars, except when working as a messenger, runner, handtrucker, and similar duties which require entering the prohibited workplaces infrequently and for short periods of time
  • occupations involved in the recovery of lard and oils, except the operation of lard-roll machines and packaging and shipping the products
  • occupations involved in tankage or rending dead animals, animal offal, animal fats, scrap meats, blood, and bones into stock feeds, tallow, inedible greases, fertilizer ingredients, and similar products
  • occupations involved in operating or feeding the following power-driven machine, which includes setting-up, adjusting, repairing, oiling, and cleaning the machine or its parts, regardless of the product being process (e.g., slicing meat in a retail delicatessen, poultry, seafood, bread, vegetables, and cheese):
    • meat patty forming machines
    • meat and bone cutting saws
    • poultry scissors or shears
    • meat slicers
    • knives (except bacon-slicing machines)
    • headsplitters
    • guillotine cutters
    • snoutpullers and jawpullers
    • skinning machines
    • horizontal rotary washing machines
    • casing-cleaning machines such as crushing, stripping, and finishing machines
    • grinding, mixing, chopping, and hashing machines
    • presses (except belly-rolling machines)
  • boning occupations
  • occupations that involve pushing or dropping any suspended carcass, half carcass, or quarter carcass
  • occupations involving handlifting or handcarrying any carcass or half carcass of beef, pork, horse, deer, or buffalo, or any quarter carcass of beef, horse, or buffalo

29 CFR 570.61(a)




Exceptions

The following are exceptions to the prohibition on youth employment for 16 and 17 year olds in occupations in or about slaughtering and meat packing establishments, rendering plants, or wholesale, retail, or service establishments listed above:

  • operation of lightweight, small capacity, portable, countertop mixers that are not hardwired into the establishment’s power source, are not equipped with a motor that operates at no more than 1⁄2 horsepower, and are not equipped with a bowl with a capacity of no more than five quarts when used to process materials other than meat or poultry. See 29 CFR 570.62(b)(1)
  • killing and processing of rabbits or small game in areas physically separated from the killing floor
  • youth employed in a qualified apprenticeship or student-learner program

29 CFR 570.61(a)(4), (c)



Boning occupations

Boning occupations include removal of bones from meat cuts. It does not mean work that involves cutting, scraping, or trimming meat from cuts containing bones. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Curing cellar

The term curing cellar includings a workroom or workplace which is primarily used to preserve and flavor meat, including poultry, by curing materials. It does not include areas where meats are smoked. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Hide cellar

A hide cellar is a workroom or workplace where hides are graded, trimmed, salted, and otherwise cured. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Killing floor

The killing floor includes workrooms or workplaces where cattle, calves, hogs, poultry, sheep, lambs, goats, buffalo, deer, or horses are immobilized, shackled, or killed, and the carcasses are dressed prior to chilling. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Retail/wholesale establishments

For purposes of this restriction on youth employment, retail and wholesale establishments include establishments where meat or meat products, including poultry, are processed or handled, such as butcher shops, grocery stores, restaurants, quick service food establishments, hotels, delicatessens, and meat locker (freezer-locker) companies, and establishments where any food product is prepared and processed for serving to customers using machines covered by this prohibition. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Rendering plants

A rendering plant is an establishment that is engaged in the conversion of dead animals, animal offal, animal fats, scrap meats, blood, and bones into stock feeds, tallow, inedible greases, fertilizer ingredients, and similar products. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Slaughtering and meat packing establishments

Slaughtering and meat packing establishments are places in or about which cattle, calves, hogs, poultry, sheep, lambs, goats, buffalo, deer, horses, and other such animals are killed, butchered, or processed. They also include establishments which manufacture or process meat or poultry products, including sausage or sausage casings from such animals. 29 CFR 570.61(b)



Age certification

Employers who employ minors are not in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor laws if they keep on file unexpired certificates of age for each minor employed which shows the minor is the appropriate age for the work being performed, even if the child turns out not to be the appropriate age. 29 US Code 203(l)(2); 29 CFR 570.5(a); 29 CFR 570.38; 29 CFR 570.121 For more information, visit our page on age certificates.