LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The state’s top doctor says Arkansas health officials did not turn their back on a rodent problem at a Family Dollar distribution center.
As part of a news briefing with Gov. Asa Hutchinson Friday, Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said his agency had been monitoring the problems at the facility for a year.
“We work, not as a punitive system but as we see improvement, we come back and continue to go forward with it,” Romero said. “We had several complaints after that, each time they addressed the issues that we had.”
Records reveal the state has inspected the West Memphis distribution facility four times, seeing live and dead rodents during each visit, before notifying federal authorities. Health officials said the state notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October about the rodents.
State documents show health officials ranked the inspection as a low priority. On Thursday, the state said it ranked a low risk because the facility was cooperative when asked to destroy the contaminated product and address the rodent issue.
On Friday, health officials clarified that low priority did not refer to the rodent issue but instead refers to the type of facility.
“In general, facilities that have prepackaged foods like this one are low. Facilities that prepare foods, like most restaurants, are medium. Facilities that prepare sushi or things like that are high,” said a health department spokesperson.
The state confirms the distribution center has been elevated a high risk category.
Family Dollar said last week that it is not aware of any consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this recall.
“We take situations like this very seriously and are committed to providing safe and quality products to our customers,” Kayleigh Campbell, a spokesperson for Family Dollar’s parent company Dollar Tree, said at the time. “We have been fully cooperating with all regulatory agencies in the resolution of this matter and are in the process of remediating the issue.”
FOX 16 Investigates reached out to Family Dollar and the FDA Thursday regarding the inspection reports but have not heard back.