25 Feb 2024

Dunedin South Countdown pushes back reopening yet again after another rat found

5:01 pm on 25 February 2024
South Dunedin Countdown temporarily closes after more rats were trapped on the week of 5 February, 2024.

Dunedin South Countdown has been closed for more than two weeks due to rats. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

A rat-plagued Dunedin supermarket has pushed back its reopening yet again after another rodent sighting.

Countdown's Dunedin South store has been closed for more than two weeks due to the rat problem, with more than 20 rats captured since 10 February.

The store was due to reopen on Sunday, but Woolworths New Zealand director of stores Jason Stockill said that was now on hold.

"Rentokil reported a rodent gained entry to the store overnight, triggering a camera sighting."

He said the issue was being discussed with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The company would provide an update on reopening when it could, he said.

New Zealand Food Safety Deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle said the store was due to reopen on Sunday, but another rodent was caught on camera.

"They had a sighting and they realised that there was an entry point they hadn't plugged up. Otherwise, the supermarket is shut so there are very limited entry points left but they're watching it very closely."

He said the supermarket was doing everything it could.

"But right now, it's results that matter. They were having a good couple of days with no sightings and no trappings until last night."

New Zealand Food Safety previously said its investigation into the cause and scale of the problem could take several months.

Arbuckle said the complexity and need for thoroughness meant it would take time to investigate, so it could be prevented from happening again.

"We are satisfied Woolworths is taking the matter seriously and is putting in place all the right measures at the store to manage the problem, including deep cleaning, maintenance and proactive pest control measures," Arbuckle said.

"Given the very high level of public interest, we want to see a 24-hour period of no rodent activity, followed by a 48-hour period to determine if the measures have worked before reopening.

"Following reopening, our food compliance officers will monitor the store for a period so that consumers can have confidence food at the store is safe."

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