Rodent-Infested Warehouse Forces Family Dollar to Temporarily Close 404 Stores

Discount retailer Family Dollar ordered the temporary closure of 404 locations in six states to conduct a proper recall of merchandise shipped from an Arkansas distribution center affected by a rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement that, following a consumer complaint, it began an investigation of the Family Dollar distribution facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, last January. The FDA inspection found unsanitary conditions, including a rodent infestation, could cause many products to become contaminated.

Rodent contamination may cause Salmonella and infectious diseases, posing the most significant risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised people.

According to the FDA, they found live rodents, dead rodents in various stages of decay during the facility inspection. There were rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting, rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination.

More than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered from the facility following fumigation at the facility in January 2022. FDA reported that a review of the company’s internal records also indicated the collection of more than 2,300 rodents between March 29 and September 17, 2021, demonstrating a history of infestation.

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Therefore, the FDA is alerting the public that several agency-regulated products purchased from January 1, 2021, to the present at Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee may be unsafe for consumers.

Examples of these products include human food (including dietary supplements (vitamin, herbal, and mineral supplements) cosmetics (skincare products, baby oils, lipsticks, shampoos, baby wipes); animal food (kibble, pet treats, wild bird seed); medical devices (feminine hygiene products, surgical masks, contact lens cleaning solutions, bandages, nasal care products) and over-the-counter medicines (pain relievers, eye drops, dental products, antacids, other medicines for adults and children).

The affected products came from the company’s West Memphis, Arkansas distribution facility.

“Families rely on stores like Family Dollar for products such as food and medicine. They deserve products that are safe,” said Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Judith McMeekin, Pharm.D. “No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions that we found in this Family Dollar distribution facility. These conditions appear to be violations of federal law that could put families’ health at risk. We will continue to work to protect consumers.”

Consumers are advised not to use the affected products and to contact the company. The agency also recommends that all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and dietary supplements, regardless of packaging, be discarded. Food in non-permeable packaging (such as undamaged glass or all-metal cans) may be suitable for use if thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. Consumers should wash their hands immediately after handling any products from the affected Family Dollar stores.

Family Dollar ceased distribution of products within days of the FDA inspection team’s arrival on-site, and the inspection concluded on February 111.

The New York Times reported that Kayleigh Campbell, a spokeswoman for Dollar Tree, said in an email sent Saturday to the newspaper that the company had “temporarily closed the affected stores in order to proficiently conduct the voluntary recall” and that the stores would reopen as soon as possible.

“We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers,” Ms. Campbell said. “We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue.”