Family Dollar gets record $41.7M fine over mouse-infested warehouse

Deep-discount retail chain Family Dollar has pleaded guilty to selling goods at 400 stores across the Southeast that came from a rodent-infested warehouse — and will pay a record $41.7 million in fines, according to the feds.

In 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration found “live rodents, dead and decaying rodents, rodent feces, urine and odors” at the company’s Arkansas warehouse that stored food, cosmetics, and medical devices, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

The FDA’s report also revealed that Family Dollar had received rodent reports a year before the agency’s investigation — and that the company nevertheless continued to ship potentially contaminated goods to its stores.

Family Dollar was hit with a whopping $41.7 million in fines. Christopher Sadowski

The retailer – a subsidiary of Dollar Tree – will pay a fine and forfeiture of $41.7 million, the largest-ever monetary criminal penalty for a food safety case. As a part of the plea agreement, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree must also meet “robust” reporting requirements for the next three years.

“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,” US Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said in the statement.

Family Dollar Stores admitted to first receiving reports about “mouse and pest issues” in August 2020, although the Arkansas warehouse continued supplying 404 stores in Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

The report shows that several employers knew the warehouse’s sanitary conditions were illegal in January 2021, with some stores receiving rodents and rodent-corrupted produce.

Still, Family Dollar Stores continued shipping from the warehouse until January 2022, when the FDA revealed the scale of infestation. Exterminators reported 1,270 dead mice in a subsequent fumigation.

The retailer pleaded guilty to selling goods that came from a rodent-infested warehouse. Getty Images/iStockphoto

On Feb. 18, 2022, the company recalled medical devices, cosmetics, and food products supplied by the warehouse throughout the year.

On Monday, Family Dollar admitted to one misdemeanor count of goods contamination under unsanitary conditions.

Dollar Tree – which purchased the Family Dollar chain of 8,000 stores in 2015 – said Monday it extensively cooperated with the DOJ and continues enhancing sanitary measures, including restructuring the safety team and running third-party audits across the company’s distribution centers.

“Having reached full resolution with the DOJ, we are continuing to move forward on our business transformation, safety procedures and compliance initiatives,” Dollar Tree Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said in the statement.

In a $100 million investment, the company plans to open a new facility in Memphis this fall, additionally creating 300 jobs in Arkansas.

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