'Evidence of rat activity' at Countdown

Countdown Dunedin South, 323 Andersons Bay Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Countdown Dunedin South, 323 Andersons Bay Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
There are still signs of rats at Countdown’s South Dunedin store, but no rats have been caught in traps for more than a week.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ New Zealand Food Safety acting deputy director-general Jenny Bishop said a pest control contractor was visiting Countdown Dunedin South, at 323 Andersons Bay Rd, regularly.

"And we continue to monitor and work with the food business."

There had been frequent visits to the store by various parties, including Rentokil pest control, an independent verifier and New Zealand Food Safety officers, Ms Bishop said.

The South Dunedin supermarket came to national attention last month after staff alleged a lack of action on a rat infestation at the store.

And the company subsequently confirmed a photo of a rat in the deli section supplied to the Otago Daily Times was taken at the supermarket in late November.

This week, Ms Bishop said the ministry’s independent verifier had identified "evidence of rat activity at the store".

"However, no rats were sighted."

The company had a plan in place to minimise risk to customers and to manage the situation and the ministry continued to assess its effectiveness, she said.

"If an immediate risk emerged we would take action to address it, including through product recalls."

An employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday they had seen a rat at the store as recently as Friday.

However, there did appear to be a general decline in rat activity.

Whether the decreased rat activity was due to the rats going into hiding or pest control efforts having an effect was yet to be determined, the employee said.

A Woolworths New Zealand spokesman said, as the company previously stated, Countdown had comprehensive pest management plans in place in all its stores, including Countdown Dunedin South.

"There have been no new captures there in over a week, which reinforces [the ministry’s] comment after it visited the site that the store is addressing the situation appropriately," the spokesman said.