If you had a dollar for every time you’ve asked someone to add rat feces and urine to your food, supplements, or cosmetics, you probably wouldn’t have too many dollars. So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a rodent infestation in Family Dollar’s West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution facility, they realized that they had to notify the public. That’s why the FDA has now issued a warning about products purchased since January 1, 2021, from Family Dollar stores in six states. And Family Dollar has issued a voluntary recall of the potentially affected products:
The six states are Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Potentially contaminated products include include human foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, skincare products, baby oils, lipsticks, shampoos, baby wipes, animal foods, feminine hygiene products, surgical masks, contact lens cleaning solutions, bandages, nasal care products, and various over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Yes, washing your face, hair, and contact lenses with rat poop or urine would be kind of defeating the purpose.
The FDA announcement came after an inspection of the Family Dollar distribution facility concluded on February 11. The inspection revealed both live rodents and over 1,100 dead ones in various states of decay. Plus, the company’s internal records indicated that more than 2,300 rodents had already been collected from March 29 through September 17, 2021. As the saying goes, one rodent may be an accident, two rodents may be coincidence, but over 3,000 rodents is more than simply an “ooops.” It’s an infestation. All of this makes you wonder what threshold the facility may have had for doing much more about the rodent problem. When the number of rodents approaches the average fan attendance at an Ottawa Senators hockey game, you’ve probably waited too long. And, no, simply getting a cat may not be enough when you have over a thousand rodents:
MORE FOR YOU
In addition to the rodents, the FDA found rodent feces and urine as well. After all rodents don’t tend to use toilets, which makes them very rude house guests. There was also “evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility,” which again makes you wonder what the managers of the facility were thinking. Rodent odor is not your typical perfume or cologne fragrance, and your employees shouldn’t be gnawing at products and nesting in the facility.
Rodents weren’t the only animals making themselves at home in the facility. Apparently, products were being given the bird too. Or rather the birds. The inspection found dead birds and bird droppings as well. Bird poop on top of rat poop would make a place quite a dump.
“Families rely on stores like Family Dollar for products such as food and medicine. They deserve products that are safe,” said Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Judith McMeekin, Pharm.D. 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.”
Clearly, rodent and bird contamination is a bad thing. People don’t typically say “yay” after hearing that their stuff has rat and bird poop on them. Rodents and birds can carry lots of different bad microbes such as Salmonella. Therefore, you should avoid touching or using any product that may have been potentially affected, regardless of how clean they may appear to be. Your family members or guests don’t want to hear the words, “well, other than the possible rat urine and feces, this seems perfectly fine to eat.”
If the food is in completely non-permeable packaging such as a metal can, you may be able to get away with just cleaning and disinfecting the packaging before opening it. However, have a very low threshold for returning or discarding any product. It isn’t worth playing diarrhea roulette by not being careful. Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling any of these products and disinfect any surfaces that may have come into contact with them. If you start feeling sick, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
The Family Dollar recall announcement did say that “to date, Family Dollar is not aware of any consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this recall.” The recall involves the 404 stores that are listed in the announcement and includes “all: (i) drugs; (ii) medical devices; (iii) cosmetics; (iv) dietary supplements; and (v) human and animal (pet) food products. The recall does not apply to products shipped directly to the stores by the distributor or manufacturer, such as all frozen and refrigerated items.” If you’ve lost your receipt, don’t worry. You won’t need such a proof of purchase to return your products to the Family Dollar store from where you bought them.
Obviously the Family Dollar facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, will need to clean up its act. It’s not clear what the state of other Family Dollar facilities may be. But needless to say, they best not You may bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. However, you don’t want anything from an animal’s bottom to be in what you purchase from the Family Dollar.