Woolworths apologises three weeks after rat found in Dunedin supermarket

Three weeks after a rat was spotted inside a South Dunedin supermarket, Woolworths New Zealand has apologised.

Since that one rat was photographed, 20 others have been killed and Woolworths has admitted improvements can, and will, be made.

"I just want to apologise for the inconvenience and all other customers who saw some of this and understandably find it quite distressing," said Pieter de Wet, director of Woolworths New Zealand.

About three weeks ago, the supermarket chain revealed an Ōtepoti/Dunedin supermarket was plagued with rats.

"We were doing all the normal things and we were following all the right processes, but we just didn't see the results we were expecting to see," de Wet told Newshub.

Since then, more than 20 rodents have been caught, forcing the store to close for deep cleaning.

"So over the last 24 hours, we haven't had any further captures in that store but obviously we're staying close to it."

If no further rodents are caught, Woolworths hopes the store will reopen on Tuesday.

While there are pest management plans in place for 194 Countdown stores across the country, Woolworths New Zealand will now review its work with pest control contractor Rentokil.

"Under normal circumstances, I think what we've got in place we've managed to give us a good outcome," said de Wet.

"But we've just seen this season and probably due to the hot weather, some incidents of more activity than we would normally see. The challenge we've given ourselves and our pest control partner is: are we managing everything that we should be able to manage? [Are] there any gaps in our processes we should be doing differently?"

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has begun an independent review into the Australian-owned supermarket's pest management.

"We're communicating with them on a daily basis," de Wet said.

More training for staff will also be provided, after Woolworths revealed not all deli salads at Christchurch's Eastgate Countdown store were thrown out, even after the mouse was found.

"Subsequently after that incident we've reviewed all of our store processes again."

Senior Woolworths leadership will also be visiting all stores across the country in person, in the hopes of ridding itself of this pesky problem.