“Rat carcasses on the conveyor belt”: Grand jury subpoena over Family Dollar rat problem


Dollar Tree on Tuesday stated it acquired a federal grand jury subpoena issued by the Eastern District of Arkansas associated to the rat infestation in considered one of its Family Dollar warehouses. The subpoena comes after a 22-page FDA inspection report disclosed unsavory particulars about the facility, similar to issues starting from “four rat carcasses on the conveyor belt” to rodent droppings “too numerous to count.”

Dollar Tree, which is the mum or dad of Family Dollar, stated it intends to cooperate with the subpoena and any associated investigation. The subpoena has requested data, paperwork and data about pests, sanitation and compliance with the legislation about some procedures and practices, in keeping with a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 15.

Family Dollar closed greater than 400 shops in February after greater than 1,000 lifeless rodents have been discovered at considered one of its distribution services. 

Several merchandise bought at Family Dollar shops in six states have been voluntarily recalled, the Food and Drug Administration said final month. Already, the infestation has proved expensive, with Dollar Tree saying the product recall and retailer closures resulted in a value of $34 million. It additionally revealed in the March 15 submitting that it’s going through at the very least 9 proposed class-action lawsuits over the infestation and remembers. 

The FDA report stated the company had been conscious of the presence of rodents in the West Memphis, Arkansas, facility since at the very least January 2020. In October 2021, a fireplace drill despatched “dozens of rats” scurrying round the facility attributable to the loud sound, the company stated.

In an electronic mail in response to the FDA report, a Dollar Tree spokeswoman stated the company takes “this very seriously and [is] committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers.” She added, “We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue.”

The FDA confirmed the authenticity of the inspection report. 

“Excreta pellets”

The issues at the facility may harm Family Dollar’s popularity amongst shoppers, retail professional Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, stated in a report. 

“We find the situation concerning as we think it points to a wider sloppiness in the Family Dollar operation and a willingness to cut corners,” Saunders wrote. “While no one expects a dollar store to be palatial, consumers rightfully want basic hygiene and safety standards to be adhered to.”

Among the points discovered by FDA inspectors at the facility:

  • Both dwell rodents and “dead rodents of various states of decay” by way of the facility, together with the place meals was saved.
  • “A mouse carcass on a pallet” containing Hungry Jack Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes.
  • Numerous “rodent excreta pellets” discovered on a number of pallets of meals, together with merchandise similar to Knorr Chicken Flavor Rice & Pasta Blend, Knorr Pasta Alfredo, Graffity Taffy, Chestnut Hill Self-Rising Flour, BiGS Taco Supreme Flavored Sunflower Seeds and  Jell-O model instantaneous Chocolate Jello.
  • “Multiple (no less than 5) rats climbing up rack scaffolding and through a pallet containing potato chips.”
  • Many merchandise that have been gnawed on by rodents, similar to tubs of Italian Pistachio & Vanilla Duo Spread, which had “gnaw holes.”
  • Some pet meals merchandise additionally had proof of rodents, with baggage of canine and cat meals having gnaw holes in them.
  • Rodent droppings have been additionally discovered on personal care objects like Crest toothpaste and Listerine mouthwash.

The FDA report stated the company lacked a system to trace studies from its shops that acquired contaminated merchandise from the distribution heart. It additionally said that one retailer acquired a field with a “live large rat” inside it. 

Dollar Tree stated the distribution heart stays open however is working at “limited capacity.” At the identical time, it’s regularly reopening the shops it had shuttered attributable to the issues at the facility, nevertheless it would not have a timetable at the second, the spokeswoman stated.

“The facility is not currently shipping FDA-regulated products, such as packaged human and animal (pet) food, drug products, dietary supplements, medical devices and cosmetics,” the spokeswoman stated. “We are working on a remediation plan.”