Family Dollar Fined More Than $40M Over Rat-Infested Arkansas Warehouse

US

Family Dollar Stores pleaded guilty on Monday to storing food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics in a rat-infested warehouse in West Memphis, Arkansas.

In a press release, the Department of Justice announced that the company agreed to pay a $41.67 million fine over the “insanitary conditions.”

“A criminal information unsealed today in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas, charged Family Dollar with one misdemeanor count of causing FDA-regulated products to become adulterated while being held under insanitary conditions,” the press release explained.

The fine is the largest ever monetary criminal penalty in a food safety case.

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The DOJ continued, “The company, a subsidiary of Dollar Tree Inc., entered into a plea agreement that includes a sentence of a fine and forfeiture amount totaling $41.675 million, the largest-ever monetary criminal penalty in a food safety case. The plea agreement also requires Family Dollar and Dollar Tree to meet robust corporate compliance and reporting requirements for the next three years.”

“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.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division added, “Companies distributing and selling food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics must ensure that these products are being held in safe and sanitary conditions.”

“The Justice Department will continue to work closely with the FDA to investigate and prosecute those who put public health at risk by failing to meet this important obligation,” Boynton continued.

By pleading guilty, Family Dollar admitted that its Arkansas distribution center shipped to stores in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

“According to the plea agreement, the company began receiving reports in August 2020 of mouse and pest issues with deliveries to stores,” the DOJ said. “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 held at the warehouse to become adulterated in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).”

In January 2022, an FDA inspection found live rodents, dead and decaying rodents, rodent feces, urine, and odors, and evidence of gnawing and nesting throughout the warehouse.

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