Bad news if you're a regular at Family Dollar and you're in the South: Chances are, a location near you may be shuttered temporarily after a rat infestation at an Arkansas distribution warehouse. The Washington Post reports that 404 stores in six states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee—are closed for the time being after "the presence of rodents and rodent activity" was detected at its West Memphis facility, which supplies those locations, per a release. Specifically, Food and Drug Administration investigators on the scene to look into reportedly unsanitary conditions were confronted by "live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings," per an FDA statement.
All in all, upward of 1,100 dead rodents were pulled out of the center after it was fumigated in the FDA investigation that wrapped up on Feb. 11. A voluntary recall is also in place for all drugs, medical devices (including products such as feminine hygiene items, contact lens solution, and surgical masks), cosmetics, dietary supplements, and human and pet food products shipped directly from the warehouse to stores between January 2021 and the present. Per the FDA, rodent contamination can lead to infectious diseases, including salmonella, which can be fatal to babies, the elderly, and other vulnerable consumers.
Family Dollar says it so far hasn't received any complaints from consumers claiming they've been sickened. The FDA also notes that further review of records from Family Dollar, which is owned by Dollar Tree, showed a "history of infestation" at that particular site, with more than 2,300 rodents gathered up between March and September of last year. "No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions that we found," FDA official Judith McMeekin said in a statement, per the Post. A Family Dollar spokeswoman tells the paper that "we take situations like this very seriously" and "are in the process of remediating the issue." (Read more Family Dollar stories.)