Woolworths store in New Zealand shut down over rodent infestation

A Woolworths-owned supermarket in New Zealand has been shut down after footage of multiple rodents on the store’s shelves went viral.

Photos taken from inside the Dunedin South Countdown store – a subsidiary of Woolies – last week showed two rats sitting on a shelf, peering at customers.

The incident wasn’t an isolated one – a staff member told the NZ Herald they had encountered rats throughout the store for several months, including spotting one running across the chillers. In the week since it stopped trading, 24 rats have been caught, according to reports. The store will remain closed until there is a 48-hour period within which no rodents are detected.

Meanwhile, a mouse photographed scurrying over the potato salad in the deli section of Countdown’s Eastgate location, in Christchurch, has prompted a major investigation into Woolworths’ pest-management processes across its New Zealand operation.

New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle said the move would provide assurances regarding the supermarket giant’s pest-control systems.

“Food safety is our top priority, and we will always take swift action to protect consumers,” Mr Arbuckle said.

“Our investigations into the Christchurch incident are continuing, however it appears proper procedures were not followed immediately after the mouse was spotted.

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

He added that customers have the right to expect good levels of pest management and hygiene in their grocery stores.

Woolworths New Zealand director of stores, Jason Stockhill, apologised “for any distress and inconvenience this issue is causing our community”.

“Having a safe and hygienic store is incredibly important to us and we have agreed with New Zealand Food Safety that we will keep the [Dunedin] store closed until there has been a 48-hour period with no captures in the store,” he said.

“We would like to apologise for any distress and inconvenience this issue is causing our community.

“We continue to work closely with New Zealand Food Safety and Rentokil, and will provide regular updates as needed.”

The Countdown brand is owned by Woolworths, and is New Zealand’s largest chain of supermarkets.

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