Wayne Farms evacuated workers from its poultry plant in Laurel, Mississippi, on January 27 after an ammonia leak was reported.

The ammonia leak was apparently caused by an equipment failure at the plant, Jones County Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Paul Sheffield told WDAM.

Emergency medical technicians were sent to the scene to examine workers who may have been exposed to the ammonia, Sheffield said, adding that Wayne Farms followed proper safety protocols once the leak occurred.


A portion of Interstate 59 near the Wayne Farms plant was shut down for as much as 40 minutes during the initial response to the ammonia leak, but the stretch of highway has been reopened. Several homes that were in the vicinity of the plant were also evacuated, but no area residents appeared to be harmed.

Wayne Farms, according to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, is the seventh largest broiler company in the United States and the 18th largest in the world. In 2017, the company slaughtered 369.2 million birds and processed 47.1 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis.

Wayne Farms is headquartered in Oakwood, Georgia, and was founded in 1965 as the poultry division of Continental Grain Co., eventually becoming Wayne Farms in 2000. The company’s key brands are Wayne Farms, Platinum Harvest, Crispy Fliers, Buffaloos, Chef's Craft and Naked Truth.