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Family Dollar Pleads Guilty to Insanitary Conditions

The company has agreed to pay more than $41 million due to rodent infestation.

March 5, 2024

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Family Dollar Stores LLC, a subsidiary of Dollar Tree Inc., has pleaded to holding consumer products under insanitary conditions, specifically due to a rodent infestation at the company’s West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution center.

Family Dollar was charged with one misdemeanor count of causing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -regulated products to become adulterated while being held under insanitary conditions. The company entered into a plea agreement that includes a sentence of a fine and forfeiture amount totaling US$41.675 million, the largest-ever monetary criminal penalty in a food safety case.

According to the plea agreement, Family Dollar began receiving reports in August 2020 of mouse and pest issues with deliveries to its stores. The company admitted that, by January 2021, some of its employees were aware that the unsanitary conditions caused FDA-regulated products held at the warehouse to become adulterated in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

Family Dollar continued to ship FDA-regulated products from the warehouse until January 2022, when an FDA inspection revealed live rodents, dead and decaying rodents, rodent feces, urine, odors, and evidence of gnawing and nesting throughout the facility. Subsequent fumigation of the facility resulted in the reported extermination of 1,270 rodents.

In February 2022, the company voluntarily recalled all drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and human and animal food products sold since January 2021. The products had been shipped from the distribution center to more than 400 Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

“Consumers trust that products purchased from retail stores such as Family Dollar are safe,” said Jonathan D. Ross, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “It is incomprehensible that Family Dollar knew about the rodent and pest issues at its distribution center in Arkansas but continued to ship products that were unsafe and insanitary. Knowingly selling these types of products not only places the public’s health at risk but erodes the trust consumers have in the products they purchase.”

Rick Dreiling, Dollar Tree CEO, told NPR, “When I joined Dollar Tree’s Board of Directors in March 2022, I was very disappointed to learn about these unacceptable issues at one of Family Dollar’s facilities. Since that time and even more directly when I assumed the role of CEO, we have worked diligently to help Family Dollar resolve this historical matter and significantly enhance our policies, procedures, and physical facilities to ensure it is not repeated.”

For information on keeping your facility free from pest infestations, see Make Your Facility Uninhabitable to Pests.

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