The Family Dollar discount retail chain had to recall thousands of products across hundreds of stores throughout the South due to one massive rodent infestation.
Health concerns over a rat infestation at the family Dollar distribution center in Arkansas caused the recall and shutdowns. According to Family Dollar, which is a subsidiary of Dollar Tree, the recall measures are voluntary. All products, however, stem from their West Memphis facility.
The recall specifically covers products regulated by the FDA, including medicine, pet food and cosmetics. Customers who purchased such products between January 2021 and February 2022 in Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee can receive a full refund.
A consumer complaint alerted the FDA to the issues at the West Memphis plant. After a thorough investigation, the FDA said it found more than 1,100 dead rodents after the center was fumigated. In a press release, the agency said inspectors saw “live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings.”
The Family Dollar distribution center knew about the rodents
Apparently the plant knew about the issues, too, because internal records reveal a documented history of infestation, with more than 2,300 rodents collected in six months in 2021.
Dollar Tree spokeswoman Kayleigh Campbell said the company will temporarily close 404 stores as a precautionary measure.
“We take situations like this very seriously. And we want to provide safe and quality products to our customers,” Campbell said in a statement. “We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue.”
Judith McMeekin, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said consumers deserve better treatment from their product suppliers. “No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions that we found” McMeekin commented. “These conditions appear to be violations of federal law that could put families’ health at risk. We will continue to work to protect consumers.”
The shutdowns will give Family Dollar store managers a chance to check for affected products. But according to the company, only items directly moving through West Memphis need tending; anything directly shipped from the manufacturer does not apply to the recall.
“Family Dollar ceased distribution of products within days of the FDA inspection team’s arrival on-site,” the regulatory agency said.
The FDA then advised consumers to toss any drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and supplements bought in the past 13 months. But they said that “food in non-permeable packaging (such as undamaged glass or all-metal cans) may be suitable for use if thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.”