Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard speaks out over rat and mice presence in supermarkets

Minister for Biosecurity and Food Safety Andrew Hoggard has spoken out over the recent appearance of rats and mice across some supermarkets in New Zealand. 

The ACT MP told Newshub on Tuesday the presence of pests in supermarkets recently is "not a good look". 

It comes after three separate supermarkets across the country have discovered rats or mice inside their stores. 

"I know the Food Safety officials have been working with Countdown and progressing on how they are going to remove the problem in those stores," Hoggard said.

"The officials have been all over it and have certainly been informing me around each step of the way in terms of what's happening. 

"I offered them the use of my cat but they declined it," he laughed. 

When asked if he thinks there are enough guidelines or regulations to stop this from happening, Hoggard sighed and responded "there is some work happening right now on improving the Food Safety system". 

"It has been noted that there are some gaps there," he said. 

In the latest update from Countdown's director of stores Jason Stockill, he said the rodent issue is still being addressed at Countdown Dunedin South after around 20 rats were caught by pest control recently.

"We can confirm there were two rodent captures in Countdown Dunedin South in the last 24 hours," he told Newshub. 

"We believe that all entry/exit sites have been sealed over the weekend.

"Having a safe and hygienic store is incredibly important to us and we have agreed with New Zealand Food Safety (a division of MPI) that we will keep the store closed until there has been a 48-hour period with no captures in the store," he said.  

Christchurch's Eastgate Countdown is also under fire after a mouse was filmed crawling in a bowl of uncovered salad in the deli section on February 7. 

"As part of our investigation, we found that the sighting was escalated and that two contaminated bowls were immediately removed from the deli and contents destroyed," Stockhill said.  

"However, our central Food Safety team was not immediately notified to advise on further actions, which would have been to dispose of all food in the deli and to clean and sanitise all surfaces that may have been contaminated," he added. 

"This is unacceptable and we are conducting retraining at Countdown Eastgate." 

Meanwhile another video emerged on Tuesday showing a mouse in a west Auckland Pak'nSave supermarket aisle.

New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle told Newshub MPI are in contact with Foodstuffs North Island and have "requested information about this sighting".

"Rodents will find their way into sites from time to time, and that's why stores are required to have strong pest-management plans in place to manage any issues that arise," Arbuckle said.