Rats! Family Dollar Confronts Rodent Crisis

Thom Weidlich 02.24.22


A Family Dollar warehouse was found to have such a severe infestation of rodents that the company was forced to temporarily shutter hundreds of its stores to remove products, for which it also issued a recall. We’d like to say it has been proactive, but the details suggest it could have been more so.

Family Dollar, a unit of discount-store biggie Dollar Tree Inc., put out a press release Feb. 18 on Business Wire. It was voluntarily recalling “certain products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” that had been stored in the rat-filled facility in West Memphis, Arkansas. Those products had been shipped to 404 of its stores in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

So far, so on the ball. But an FDA press release, issued the same day, provided more detail on the rising crisis. The agency said it began investigating the situation in January after a consumer complaint. (The local CBS affiliate said an ex-employee that month had posted videos and pictures of dead and live rats in the distribution center, which, according to its mayor, is West Memphis’s fourth-largest employer.)

Crisis Move

The FDA said the company stopped shipping products from the warehouse within days of the start of the probe, which concluded Feb. 11. That was a good crisis move.

The FDA wrote, disgustingly: “Conditions observed during the inspection included 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 and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination.”

Family Dollar had fumigated the distribution center in January, and when the smoke cleared it recovered more than 1,100 dead rodents (a number that was catnip to reporters). The FDA also said the facility’s records showed that between March and September last year more than 2,300 rodents were collected, which showed “a history of infestation.” Clearly, there was a problem. One could argue the company should have gone public with it sooner.

Health Risk

“These conditions appear to be violations of federal law that could put families’ health at risk,” an FDA official was quoted in the agency’s release. The FDA advised people not to use the products, which include drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, dietary supplements and food (both the human and pet varieties). Family Dollar said it was unaware of any illness caused by any of the items.

“Our teams are working hard to reopen these stores as soon as possible,” Dollar Tree spokesperson Kayleigh Campbell was quoted in a Feb. 20 article.

Photo Credit: Pakhnyushchy/Shutterstock

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