Family Dollar Pleads Guilty To Storing Goods In Rodent-Infested Warehouse, Agrees To Pay Historic Fine

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Mariane Angela Contributor
Font Size:

Family Dollar pleaded guilty to storing goods in a rodent-infested warehouse, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday.

A statement released by the DOJ outlined Family Dollar Stores LLC’s mishandling of food, drugs, medical devices and cosmetics at its West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution center. The company admitted to public health violations by pleading guilty to storing consumer products in a warehouse plagued by rodent infestation.

The plea agreement entails Family Dollar paying a record-setting $41.675 million penalty — the largest monetary fine ever in a food safety criminal case. The federal court charged the retailer with a misdemeanor for allowing FDA-regulated products to be contaminated under unsanitary conditions.

“When consumers go to the store, they have the right to expect that the food and drugs on the shelves have been kept in clean, uncontaminated conditions,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer. “When companies violate that trust and the laws designed to keep consumers safe, the public should rest assured: The Justice Department will hold those companies accountable.”

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Jonathan D. Ross expressed dismay at the fact that Family Dollar was aware of the rodent issue but chose to distribute unsafe and unsanitary products. “Consumers trust that products purchased from retail stores such as Family Dollar are safe,” Ross said. “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.” (RELATED: Founder Of Family Dollar Dies At Age 85)

Family Dollar’s guilty plea acknowledges that its distribution center in Arkansas shipped contaminated FDA-regulated products to over 400 stores across several states, which include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, the DOJ said. Despite receiving complaints of pest issues as early as Aug. 2020, the company continued operations until a damning FDA inspection in Jan. 2022 forced a massive recall of affected products, the plea agreement states, according to the DOJ.

FDA uncovered the presence of live and dead rodents, along with signs of decay, rodent droppings, urine, unpleasant smells and nesting evidence throughout the premises, the plea agreement said, according to the DOJ. Subsequent to this inspection, the storage site underwent a fumigation process, which, as stated in the plea deal, led to the elimination of approximately 1,270 rodents, the DOJ said.