WATCH: Rats make a meal of Food Lover's produce in 2 separate stores

2019-01-07 16:50
Food Lover’s Market is investigating a rodent problem.

Food Lover’s Market is investigating a rodent problem. (Supplied)

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Two separate rodent incidents have left Food Lover's Market customers seething on social media.

While Food Lover’s Market said it was investigating a rodent problem, after a video of a rat gnawing away at the salad bar at its Diepkloof Square store surfaced on social media, a second video surfaced online showing what appears to be two baby rodents crawling over a bag of apples at Jabulani Mall.

Food Lover’s Market said it viewed the Diepkloof incident in a serious light and the store had been closed since Monday afternoon. 

"We have launched an investigation to establish the source of the rodent problem," it said in a statement, adding that their last health and safety inspectorate audit had taken place in November.

"The store is also contracted to the pest control company, Rentokil", and it does "regular inspections and provide the necessary services regarding to rodent and pest control," the statement reads.

"Our first priority is to uphold and maintain the highest safety and hygiene standards for our consumers," Food Lovers Market CEO Brian Coppin said in a statement on Monday.

The Board of Directors has since instructed the franchisee owner to close the store temporarily with immediate effect.

"This will allow a team of specialists to go to into the store and do a deep clean to ensure that when the store re-opens in about a week’s time, it is again clean, hygienic, up to the normal Food Lovers standard and ready to operate at the level we demand of all of our stores, corporate and franchised," Coppin explained.

Food Lovers Holdings further wishes to clarify that stores are subject to a monthly mystery shopper visit by an independent company and are also audited by its internal Health and Safety Division on a quarterly basis. 

"Clearly our standards have not been maintained at the Diepkloof store and for that reason we apologise to all our loyal customers.  We can also mention that the Diepkloof store will soon undergo a scheduled re-vamp this year to bring it in line with the image achieved in our newer stores," Coppin added.

'Pretty disgusting'

The Jabulani Mall incident was filmed and posted to Facebook by shopper Bongani Mtshali on December 31.

"I’m not going to lie, it was pretty disgusting," he told News24.

"If these are two baby rats .... That clearly means there should be a mother rat and siblings somewhere lurking around in the food area," he said.

"I’d hate to imagine the cross-contamination happening in this store."

Mtshali said he had alerted the manager before leaving the store without purchasing anything, and that two or three other patrons had followed suit.

"The manager was subtle about it. She just called somebody to remove the rodents," he said.

The produce, however, stayed on the shelf.

"Somebody else probably came in there and bought that packet," Mtshali said.

"Maybe I would have felt better if they had sealed off that area and then just checked and removed the food in the area."

Facebook apology

Food Lover’s Market responded to Mtshali's subsequent Facebook post, apologising for his "terrible" experience. 

"I am so sorry about the terrible experience. I will notify the store with urgency. Please send me your contact number so that I can have the store contact you," their response read.

Mtshali says no one has been in touch with him yet.

"One thing I do know is I’m not going to set foot back at Food Lover’s Market," he said.

Food Lovers Market said on Monday night it has made contact with Mtshali "to apologise in this regard".

"Our investigation at the store confirms that this was an isolated incident and separate to that of Diepkloof Food Lover's Market," the company said.

"In both instances, our first priority is to uphold and maintain the highest safety and hygiene standards for our consumers."

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