Tyson Foods confirmed Tuesday that operations at its Logansport facility have been temporarily halted while local employees indicated the reason was because cockroaches had been seen inside.

A Logansport Tyson Foods employee working in production who asked not to be named said the U.S. Department of Agriculture shut down the pork production facility because of "a major cockroach infestation."

Attempts to reach the USDA for confirmation Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The employee said all employees in the harvesting part of the facility were sent home at around 2:30 p.m. Monday while the "cold side" continued production.

Cass County Online reported on the "Delays, Closings and Cancellations" page of its website that there would be no production Tuesday night at Tyson Fresh Meats in Logansport. On Wednesday, limited and delayed harvesting was scheduled.

Caroline Ahn, manager of external communications for Tyson Foods, responded to a request for details about the reported shutdown in an email by writing "Operations have been temporarily halted" at the Logansport facility "due to a production related issue."

"We hope to have the issue resolved quickly and resume operations as soon as possible," Ahn continued.

Tyson, like all meat processing facilities, is required by federal law to have USDA inspectors on site, and must cease production if the USDA is not inspecting the plant. The inspectors have the authority to suspend inspections if they find repeated violations of federal regulations regarding meat processing plants or if they find something warranting emergency action.

Several employees in production at the facility indicated they'd been sent home Monday after a few hours and told not to come in to work Tuesday.

Two employees on the cold side, who asked not to be named, said management told them the shutdown was triggered by the USDA because someone saw a cockroach. The shutdown was to allow time to clean up any insects, they were told.

Neither had seen any insects themselves this week. One said he'd once seen a cockroach inside the plant, several months ago, but never thought the plant would be shut down over such an issue.

Another production employee, Aye Sanwin Kyi, wasn't scheduled to work but heard through other employees "there were cockroaches."

An industry expert has said shutting down a pork processing plant the size of Logansport's, even for just a day or two, can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tyson Fresh Meats employs more than 2,000 people at its Logansport facilities, mostly in production. The National Pork Board estimates the plant's daily slaughter capacity stands at 15,400 as of fall 2017, according to the board's Pork Checkoff website.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or Sarah Einselen at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com.

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