Eastgate supermarket conduct not up to scratch after mouse found in deli - MPI

Eastgate Countdown. Photo: RNZ / Nathan Mckinnon
Eastgate Countdown. Photo: RNZ / Nathan Mckinnon
A Christchurch supermarket should have binned all food in its deli immediately after a mouse was found scurrying inside the counter, food safety officials say.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is continuing its investigation after video footage emerged of a mouse in the deli section of the Eastgate Countdown last week.

In a statement on Wednesday, Woolworths told RNZ two sales were made from the store's deli after the mouse was found and attempts have been made to contact the customers.

"We have been able to contact one customer but cannot contact the other. We would encourage that customer to reach out to our customer care team so we can make it right."

Woolworths said it was continuing its own investigation of the 7 February mouse sighting.

"As part of our investigation, we found that two contaminated bowls were immediately removed from the deli and contents destroyed. However, our central Food Safety team was not immediately notified to advise on further actions and the rest of the food in the deli was not immediately disposed of.

"This is unacceptable and we are conducting retraining at Countdown Eastgate."

The mouse can be seen in a potato salad. Photo: Reddit / screenshot
The mouse can be seen in a potato salad. Photo: Reddit / screenshot
MPI said the store's conduct had not been up to scratch.

"It appears proper procedures were not followed immediately after the mouse was spotted," New Zealand Food Safety's deputy director general Vincent Arbuckle said.

"We would expect the food in the deli counter to have been disposed of immediately."

Arbuckle said it had advised Woolworths that a review was being conducted into its pest management and maintenance processes across its New Zealand operations.

"This will provide assurance regarding its pest control systems."

The mouse being found in the deli counter was just one of a handful of occurrences of rodents roaming freely through supermarkets in recent weeks.

Foodstuffs confirmed on Tuesday that a lone mouse had been found by a shopper at Pak'n Save's Lincoln Road store in West Auckland.

"The incident was reported, and the mouse quickly caught," Foodstuffs said in a statement.

Despite this, MPI was investigating the latest sighting in what has been a busy period for its food safety representatives.

Dunedin South Countdown remains closed after 23 rats were caught there over the past week.

A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday another rodent was captured within the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 24.

"As stated yesterday, we have agreed with New Zealand Food Safety (a division of MPI) that we will keep the store closed until there has been a 48-hour period with no captures in the store.

"We will continue to provide regular updates when we can, including on the store's reopening."