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1,100 Dead Rodents: Infestation Temporarily Shuts Family Dollar Facilities

Family Dollar employees pulled products off shelves and temporarily shuttered hundreds of stores in six states after a history of rodent infestations was found by U.S. Food & Drug Administration investigators at the discount retailer’s Arkansas distribution center.

The Chesapeake, Va.-based chain, part of Dollar Tree Inc., issued a voluntary recall of various products shipped from its West Memphis facility beginning Jan. 1, 2021 up until the present.

Stores affected by the recall and closures totaled 404 and are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers. We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue,” Dollar Tree Inc. director of investor relations Kayleigh Campbell said in a statement provided to Sourcing Journal Wednesday. “We temporarily closed the affected stores in order to proficiently conduct the voluntary recall of certain FDA-regulated products. Our teams are working hard to reopen these stores as soon as possible.”

Campbell declined to comment on the status of the distribution center.

Products included in the recall are across several categories, including drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements and food products for humans and animals.

Family Dollar said last week it had not received complaints or any reports of illness.

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The FDA said its investigation into the distribution center stemmed from a consumer complaint last month, which triggered an inspection at the facility between Jan. 11 and Feb. 11.

The report noted both live and dead rodents, rodent waste, nesting, gnawing, dead birds and their excrements and improper product storage inside the facility.

Investigators, on the initial day of the inspection, described rodent droppings “too numerous to count” on a dock where food and other products were waiting to be shipped out, in addition to rat carcasses and the smell of decaying animals on an unused conveyer belt, according to a 21-page FDA report.

Investigators also described a “putrid odor permeating” from an office and signs of nesting outside the employee break room.

FDA investigators’ examination of company’s records showed the retailer had been dealing with the infestation since at least 2020 when pest control was called and captured varying numbers of mice every month in that year, in addition to January through June of 2021, according to the FDA report.

More than 2,300 rodents were counted at the property between March 29 and Sept. 17 of last year, based on company records.

Investigators noted in their report the overall property was not kept “in a clean and sanitary condition,” noting spilled flour, dog food and cereals.

Over 1,100 dead rodents were found after the distribution center was fumigated. Investigators took the company to task for not codifying quality control procedures, with products such as ibuprofen and Children’s Tylenol remaining in the distribution center during the fumigation.

“Families rely on stores like Family Dollar for products such as food and medicine. They deserve products that are safe,” Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Judith McMeekin said in a statement.

McMeekin went on to say products at Family Dollar’s distribution facility were stored in “unacceptable conditions” and “appear to be violations of federal law that could put families’ health at risk.”

Family Dollar is part of Dollar Tree Inc., which also operates its namesake brand and Dollar Tree Canada. The company counts nearly 16,000 stores across its portfolio and sells items from apparel and footwear to consumables and household essentials.

Shares of Dollar Tree, which had a recent market cap of $30.6 billion, closed down 2.6 percent percent to $136.20 on Wednesday.