28 Feb 2024

Countdown Dunedin South reopens after rat infestation

12:17 pm on 28 February 2024
More than 30 cars in parked at South Dunedin Countdown as the rat-afflicted supermarket reopens its doors for the first time in more than two weeks. 28 February 2024.

More than 30 cars are parked at South Dunedin Countdown as the rat-afflicted supermarket reopens its doors. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Countdown in Dunedin South is reopening for the public after dozens of rats were spotted on-site.

The supermarket has been closed for almost three weeks to eliminate the pests after the issue was first discovered late last year.

There have been 24 rats captured since 10 February. The last capture was overnight on 22 February and there was a further sighting overnight on 24 February.

Woolworths New Zealand director of stores Jason Stockill said he was confident the situation has been addressed.

The situation took longer than expected to be controlled, he said.

"We, along with MPI and Rentokil, are confident the situation has been addressed and while it took longer than anyone wanted, we are happy to have the store open again."

The store was open as of 8am.

More than 30 cars were parked in the car park of the supermarket by 8.30am, an RNZ reporter said.

The store first became aware of the unwanted rodents in October and initially thought they were crawling into the building.

But last week, Woolworths confirmed it had found evidence of rats nesting in the supermarket's walls.

New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle said food compliance officers would monitor the store for a period of time.

"So that consumers can have confidence food at the store is safe. Third-party verification under the Food Act will also take place," he said.

In South Dunedin, customers earlier told RNZ they have mixed ideas on whether they would return to the store.

Some said the company had lost their business for not speaking out about the infestation from the start, while others planned to return once the store reopened.

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