Family Dollar closes stores and recalls products after FDA finds rodent infestation at Arkansas facility

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Family Dollar, which is owned by retail giant Dollar Tree, announced Friday night a voluntary recall of certain products from the West Memphis plant.

The recall affects products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, including drugs, pet food and cosmetics, which were sold between January 2021 and February 2022 at Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The FDA was alerted to unsanitary conditions at a Family Dollar distribution center in West Memphis, which supplied the stores, by a consumer complaint, the agency said in a news release Friday.

Inspectors concluded their investigation on February 11, after finding “live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decomposition, rodent droppings and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the establishment, dead birds and bird droppings” in the center.

More than 1,100 dead rodents were found when the center was fumigated, the agency said.

The FDA said a review of internal company records showed “a history of infestation” at the Arkansas facility, with more than 2,300 rodents collected in less than six months in 2021.

The company will temporarily close all 404 affected stores as the product is recalled, Dollar Tree spokeswoman Kayleigh Campbell told The Washington Post.

“We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe, quality products to our customers,” Campbell said in a statement. “We have cooperated fully with all regulators in resolving this matter and are in the process of remedying the issue.”

FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Judith McMeekin said families who depend on Family Dollar stores for necessary goods like food and medicine “deserve safe products.”

“No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions we found at this Family Dollar distribution facility,” McMeekin said in a statement. “These conditions appear to be violations of federal law that could endanger the health of families. We will continue to work to protect consumers.

Family Dollar, in its announcement, said the voluntary recall applies to products that were sent to affected stores from the West Memphis distribution center, not “products shipped directly to stores from the distributor or manufacturer.” . The company said it asked affected stores “to immediately check their inventory, quarantine and halt sales of any affected product.”

The FDA said it launched its investigation of the warehouse, known as Family Dollar Distribution Center 202, last month and that “Family Dollar ceased distribution of products within days of the arrival of the FDA on-site inspection team”.

Rodents can transmit diseases to humans, including salmonellosis, an infection caused by salmonella bacteria, which can be particularly dangerous for immunocompromised people and other vulnerable people. Family Dollar said it had no knowledge of any “consumer complaints or reports of illness” related to the recalled products.

The FDA advised consumers to discard all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and dietary supplements they purchased from affected stores in the past 13 months, but said “food in non-permeable packaging (such as glass or all-metal boxes) may be serviceable if thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

As inflation soars in the United States and abroad, Americans are increasingly turning to dollar stores to buy the food and medicine they need. But these stores, like other retailers, face rising production and transportation costs, and pass some of those costs on to consumers.

Dollar Tree, owner of Family Dollar Inc., announced in November that it would raise the price of some of its products by $1 to $1.25 – a price hike that its chief executive, Michael Witynski, had told Reuters. era would give the company “greater flexibility to manage the overall business, especially in a volatile and inflationary environment.”

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