Family Dollar to Pay $41M Fine Over Rodent-Infested Distribution Center

February 28, 2024

Family Dollar will pay $41.7 million for holding food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics under insanitary conditions at company’s West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution center.

A criminal information charged Family Dollar with one misdemeanor count of causing FDA-regulated products to become adulterated while being held under insanitary conditions. The company, a subsidiary of Dollar Tree Inc., entered into a plea agreement that the U.S. Department of Justice said constitutes the the largest monetary criminal penalty in a food safety case.

“Companies distributing and selling food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics must ensure that these products are being held in safe and sanitary conditions,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton said in a statement.

In pleading guilty, the company admitted that its Arkansas distribution center shipped FDA-regulated products to more than 400 Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. According to a plea agreement, the company began receiving reports in August 2020 of mouse and pest issues with deliveries to stores.

By the end of 2020, certain stores reported receiving rodents and rodent-damaged products from the warehouse. The company admitted that by no later than January 2021, some of its employees were aware that the insanitary conditions caused FDA-regulated products at the warehouse to become adulterated in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

According to the plea agreement, the company continued to ship the products from the warehouse until January 2022, when an FDA inspection revealed live rodents, dead and decaying rodents, rodent feces, urine, and odors, and evidence of gnawing and nesting throughout the facility.

According to the plea deal, subsequent fumigation of the facility resulted in the reported extermination of 1,270 rodents. On Feb. 18, 2022, the company voluntarily recalled all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and human and animal food products sold since Jan. 1, 2021 in the 404 stores that had been serviced by the warehouse.

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