WASHINGTON — Certain items sold at Family Dollar stores across six states could be contaminated by unsanitary conditions found at an Arkansas distribution facility, FDA officials warned after an inspection found a rodent infestation and other issues that could have affected the products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging caution around any items purchased since Jan. 1, 2021 at Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri or Tennessee.
A consumer complaint prompted officials to inspect the West Memphis, Arkansas, facility in January, the FDA said in a news release. Inside the building, inspectors said they found live rodents, dead rodents in “various states of decay,” rodent feces, dead birds and bird droppings.
After fumigating the facility, more than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered, officials said.
The FDA said it is working with Family Dollar to begin a voluntary recall of affected products.
Those products include human food, pet food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, medical devices and over-the-counter medications that were purchased in January or February from Family Dollar stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri or Tennessee.
According to the FDA, the facility ceased distribution within days of the inspection team's arrival, and the inspection continued through Feb. 11.
In a news release, Family Dollar listed the 404 stores that may have sold products from the contaminated facility.
The company said it “is not aware of any consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this recall.”
Records reviewed by the FDA team showed that more than 2,300 more rodents had been found in the facility between March and September of 2021, indicating that the infestation was a known issue for over a year.
“Families rely on stores like Family Dollar for products such as food and medicine. They deserve products that are safe,” Judith McMeekin, a senior FDA official, said in a statement. “No one should be subjected to products stored in the kind of unacceptable conditions that we found in this Family Dollar distribution facility. These conditions appear to be violations of federal law that could put families’ health at risk. We will continue to work to protect consumers.”
The FDA told customers not to use any potentially impacted products and to discard any unused items, regardless of packaging.
Food in non-permeable packaging such as undamaged glass bottles or metal cans may be suitable for consumption as long as they are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
Customers are also advised to wash their hands immediately after handling any merchandise purchased from Family Dollar in the six affected states.
Rodent contamination can cause salmonella and infectious diseases. The risk of disease is greater among infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and anybody who is immunocompromised.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.