Mouse 'planted as malicious act'

A major supplier of eggs to supermarkets is suggesting a mouse was planted in the supply room as a "malicious act" by an employee.

The Otago Daily Times has seen footage of a mouse messing about in a bucket of eggs and egg shells at Mainland Poultry in Waikouaiti.

The person who sent the footage to the ODT said they would be approaching Woolworths New Zealand about the matter, as Mainland Poultry supplied to the supermarket chain.

The person told the ODT the footage was symptomatic of a wider problem.

But Mainland Poultry chief executive John McKay said the company had "no reports or issues with pest control at Waikouaiti or any of its other farms".

"In fact, we are seeing less pest activity than in previous years. We have a very robust and vigilant pest control programme on our farms, and it is working well.

"In the factory and dispatch areas where our eggs are packed, processed and stored there is virtually no pest activity.

"We would like to assure our customers that there is no consumer risk and reports of anything to the contrary are unfounded."

The company had reviewed footage provided by the ODT and confirmed this was filmed at its site and was a waste bucket in its packing and grading area, he said.

A mouse (at bottom) in a waste bucket with broken eggs at Mainland Poultry in Waikouaiti. PHOTO:...
A mouse (at bottom) in a waste bucket with broken eggs at Mainland Poultry in Waikouaiti. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
It was "highly improbable" the mouse in the video came from within its facility or "that it got into the bucket by itself".

"As this is an area that has restricted access, we believe this was filmed by an employee.

"That is deeply concerning for a number of reasons given cellphones are prohibited in production areas for health and safety reasons and because company policy would be to report and record any pest sighting immediately.

"We confirm that action was not taken and conclude that filming not only broke company rules but was a malicious act. That the first action was to film and provide that to media rather than report an incident speaks for itself."

This is not the first time rodents have made the news this year.

Earlier this year, Woolworths Dunedin South (formerly Countdown Dunedin South) had to close its doors for 18 days in February after numerous sightings and captures of rodents in-store.

The complaints also triggered an investigation by New Zealand Food Safety and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

In response to an Official Information Act request, an MPI spokesman said six South Island supermarkets other than Woolworths Dunedin South had been investigated for rodent activity in the past five years. "Rodent infestations" were identified at three of them.