A Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina was evacuated on October 19 because of safety concerns with the facility’s roof and ceiling.

WWAY reported that about 2,000 workers from the plant were evacuated around 10 a.m., after part of the ceiling dropped several feet.

Kathleen Kirkham, Smithfield Foods’ director of corporate communications, released the following statement concerning the situation at the Tar Heel plant: “Smithfield Foods is working to fix a problem with the roof at the company’s Tar Heel facility. Our main concern is for the safety of our employees, and all employees have been sent home. The company plans to mitigate the impact of production losses by adding shifts at other plants.”


The plant had reportedly been evacuated in June 2014 after an ammonia leak had been detected.  Earlier that same year, Smithfield suspended slaughter at its largest pork processing facility in Tar Heel because the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus had limited the available supply of pigs to be processed.

Smithfield Foods is a subsidiary of Chinese company WH Group, which is the largest pig producer and pork processor in the world. WH Group finalized its purchase of Smithfield in 2013.