Big Lots in Texarkana, Texas, had its food-handling license revoked after an inspection on March 9. It was reinstated four days later, but the store did not pass a follow-up inspection last week.
The store was closed on Saturday, but a sign on the front of the building said it would be open again Wednesday.
Big Lots is a national brand that sells a variety of deeply discounted products, including hardware, furniture, electronics and food items.
City inspectors audited the store in response to a complaint called in March 8 and noted several deficiencies in Big Lots' food display and handling procedures.
Issues noted in the inspection report include improper storage techniques, undercooked food, improper reheating, food from unapproved sources/unsound conditions, cross-contamination of raw/cooked foods, employees not complying with various proper sanitation measures, shielding display food properly from contamination and inadequate maintenance of various facilities.
During the time the store was open after failing the first inspection, customers could shop and buy everything but food products. Those restrictions, according to a customer, included items as basic as canned dog food.
Several attempts were made by the Gazette to contact Big Lots management at the local and corporate level. Local management said a food audit was going on, but referred any further questions to the corporate office. Calls there went unanswered, and emails got an automatic response stating questions would be answered in 48 hours; they were not.
According to documents from Texarkana, Texas, Public Information Officer Lisa Thompson, Big Lots got its permit reinstated on March 13 after extensive cleaning and a detailed action plan submitted from Big Lots' corporate office. On March 16, a follow-up inspection was conducted and resulted in another suspension of their permit, which remains in effect.
The store, at 2729 New Boston Road in Oaklawn Village on the Texas side, continues all other operations. Its food-handling license will remain suspended until subsequent inspections show that deficiencies were dealt with.
The company operates about 14,000 stores with more than 35,000 employees nationwide. The company that became Big Lots was started in 1967. Big Lots is one brand under a larger corporate umbrella which includes Odd Lots and others.