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US supermarket distribution centre where inspectors found 1,100 rodents is shutting down

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  • A Family Dollar distribution centre in Arkansas is permanently closing.
  • The news comes months after FDA inspectors found more than 1,100 rodents in the facility.
  • Family Dollar temporarily closed hundreds of stores and recalled some products after the inspection.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

A Family Dollar distribution centre, where federal inspectors found live and dead rodents, dead birds, and animal droppings earlier this year, is permanently closing.

The Dollar Tree subsidiary had temporarily closed hundreds of stores and recalled some products after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors performed a fumigation at the facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, which uncovered the bodies of more than 1,100 rodents.

West Memphis mayor Marco McClendon said on Wednesday that the site would close for good, affecting around 320 workers. He said that Family Dollar had told him it was closing the facility because the building was outdated and they wanted to find a better site, but that he thought the infestation had "possibly" played a role.

During its inspection, which started in January, the FDA found "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, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination," it said.

Family Dollar's internal documents showed that more than 2,300 rodents had been removed from the site between March and September 2021, the FDA said. A retail consultant told Insider that inventory pile-ups and staffing shortages could be to blame for the infestation.

In February, Family Dollar issued a voluntary recall affecting some products made at the facility and shipped to 404 stores across six states since January 2021 "due to the presence of rodents and rodent activity." The company also temporarily closed the 404 stores – 5% of its total US store count – though it said at the time that it wasn't aware of any customers falling ill because of the affected products.

Arkansas' attorney general sued Family Dollar in late April, saying that the West Memphis site had a "long-lasting and massive rodent infestation and other unsanitary conditions."

The building will continue to ship products to stores until the end of June, Action News 5 reported.

McClendon said that Family Dollar was set to end around 230 workers' employment at the site on July 17 and another 90 by October. The company had told him that it would offer severance packages to eligible employees and some would be offered jobs elsewhere within Family Dollar, he said.

McClendon said at a city council meeting Thursday that he had "begged" the company and asked what the city could do to help Family Dollar keep the facility open.

"That will bring a strain to our city in the next couple of months, having so many people displaced," he added.

Family Dollar did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside of normal working hours.

A spokesperson told Action News 5 that it regularly assesses its operational footprint and determined "the nearly 30-year-old facility in West Memphis would not be adequate to allow us to continue serving the needs and requirements of our stores and customers served by the distribution centre."

The spokesperson said that it was "a difficult decision we did not take lightly" and that it was offering outplacement services and employee assistance programmes.



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