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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Dollars and Cents (AKA: Making a killing)

I posted a few days ago about a record setting fine leveled against a company due to violating food safety laws. There were numerous comments as well as other articles in the news. This is a perfect time to dig into this update further.


The Family Dollar saga began in 2020. However, saying “began” isn’t accurate because the problem started well before that, rodents don’t just magically appear inside a facility. The first reports were made in 2020 so we can start there. For a deeper dive into this, you can read the post I made two years ago (We Don't Talk about Bruno). To oversimplify: a huge rodent infestation in the distribution center resulted in that center and over 400 stores being closed plus a huge recall.


We all know that having pests inside a facility that holds or manufactures food, feed, pharmaceuticals, or other such products is a bad thing. It also violates Good Manufacturing Practices which is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. To oversimplify again, it is illegal.

In what amounts to a plea deal, Family Dollar agreed to pay almost $42 million dollars. It is the largest fine leveled by the FDA to date. They must also “meet robust corporate compliance and reporting requirements for the next three years.” I haven’t been able to figure out what that entails but you can bet the company is going to be highly scrutinized. In addition, some of the compliance regulations “include hiring a new chief legal officer, a new chief ethic and compliance officer, more food safety leadership positions, improved training programs, and maintaining an independently audited certification compliance.”


They are also renovating that distribution center with one source claiming it will invest $100 million to upgrade it by this autumn (2024).

Add in the $34 million in recalled products, additional pest control services (at least one fumigation), legal fees, lost revenue from closed stores and lost customers, and at least one class action lawsuit. It’s impossible to say exactly how much Family Dollar lost because of this situation, but it’s safe to say it’s over $500 million. All because they wouldn’t deal with a rodent problem and wanted to save a few dollars.


One thing that is not mentioned in any report is a pest control company. They had some pest control records so something was being done at the site. One possibility is that Family Dollar was doing their own, in-house pest control. Another possibility is that there was an outside company contracted to do their pest control and that company did everything right. They documented everything including conducive conditions and recommendations.


Pest control is never just one person’s job. Sanitation and exclusion need to be done by the site in addition to setting traps and using bait stations. You can go with the cheapest option and risk it, but you get what you pay for. Think of how much pest control the site could have done with that $500 million.


If you want help with your program, we can evaluate it for you. We cost less than $42 million dollars. Contact us for that and more!


Lagniappe – it costs that much

Urban Pest Consulting

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