MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 is continuing to investigate a series of complaints, inspections, and warnings at a Family Dollar distribution center in West Memphis.
Food was being infested by rats running loose in the warehouse, and customers were still allowed to buy products from there for over a year.
Video of rats running loose in the facility sent to FOX13 by a former employee of the warehouse has been turning stomachs and raising questions since it surfaced nearly a week after the FDA announced that a wide range of Family Dollar products may have been contaminated.
Our investigation is now stretching into years of records that raise questions about why that food was still allowed to get into the pantries of local families.
FOX13 requested records documenting inspections from both the FDA and the Arkansas Department of Health.
The first clue something may be wrong was in July of 2019.
An Arkansas Department of Health inspection found “maintenance of the grounds was inadequate to protect against contamination of food”.
A complaint from a USDA inspector who said the distribution center was in bad shape.
A month later, there was another warning that an infestation could be underway.
An inspector found damage to dock doors that left openings to the outside. The inspector called it a “potential entry point for pests”.
There were no other inspections until the next year, following a complaint in February of 2021 about rats and mice falling out of boxes.
An inspection following that complaint found “significant rodent activity on aisles where human and pet food is stored” along with live and dead rodents.
That inspection also said management ‘knew’ about the infestation for 60 days.
A follow-up report on March 19 said pest control was coming three times a week.
But in April, an inspection found “effective measures were not being taken” and they observed rodent activity on several aisles where human and pet food was being stored.
In September, an inspector said “vast improvements” were made but they also saw a live rodent in a case of chips.
That was the last inspection before January of this year when the FDA launched a series of investigations that led to Family Dollar’s voluntary recall.
The Arkansas Department of Health said they notified the FDA last year about the problem.
The department said the FDA has the power to issue a recall.
The statement didn’t give a timeline for exactly when the state contacted the FDA or how long it took for the FDA to act on it.
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