Family Dollar Pleads Guilty to Keeping Goods in Rat-Infested Warehouse

( – On Monday, February 26, Family Dollar Stores pleaded guilty to federal charges related to storing food, drugs, and other consumer products in unsanitary conditions at its distribution center in West Memphis, Arkansas. The Department of Justice (DOJ) labeled the facility “rodent-infested”. It announced a $41.675 million criminal penalty in the case, marking it the largest criminal penalty ever imposed in a food safety case.

Court documents unsealed on Monday revealed that Family Dollar admitted to holding FDA-regulated products, including food, medicine, medical devices, and cosmetics, in “unsanitary conditions” at its West Memphis facility. This resulted in the products becoming “adulterated” and unfit for consumption or use. The company knew about the rodent infestation as early as August 2020 but continued shipping potentially contaminated products to over 400 stores in six states until January 2022.

Benjamin C. Mizer, the acting associate A.G., emphasized that consumers naturally expect the food and drugs on store shelves to be clean and uncontaminated. He stated that the Justice Department will hold companies accountable for breaching this trust and failing to adhere to consumer protection laws in the United States.

The criminal information filed against Family Dollar charged the company with a single misdemeanor count. As per the plea agreement, Family Dollar must implement and maintain a three-year comprehensive compliance program. This program will include enhanced employee training, stricter reporting requirements, and independent audits.

U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Ross expressed the sentiment that consumers expect safety when purchasing products from retail stores. He further emphasized the gravity of the company’s actions, stressing that it was unthinkable that Family Dollar was aware of the rodent infestation yet continued distributing products that potentially posed health risks.

Meanwhile, the FDA inspection that ultimately led to the recall and criminal charges found that the West Memphis facility was in an unsanitary condition and infested with rodents and rodent feces. Following the inspection, Family Dollar massively recalled products from the affected stores.

However, in a statement issued by Dollar Tree, Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling expressed deep disappointment regarding over the incidents. He emphasized the company’s commitment to addressing the matter swiftly.

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