Johannesburg - Fruit & Veg City Holdings apologised to media on Friday after one of its store managers locked journalists in a coldroom during a raid in Sandton by the department of agriculture .

“Fruit & Veg City Holdings confirm news reports that media was today detained in a cold storage area of a franchised Food Lover’s Market store,” the company's chief executive Brian Coppin said in a statement.

He said an invitation to the media was never relayed to the store owner, Ben Rubin.

“He (Rubin)reacted in an understandably aggressive manner when he found a contingent of media in the cold storage area as he had not given them permission to be there. However, the aggression showed was inexcusable and we apologise to the media involved.”

The department said the store was selling undersized rock lobsters which were found to be below the legal size of 7.5cm.

Coppin said his company had dealt with the matter and that their supplier had already been fined R50 000. In addition to this, Rubin's franchise would be fined R5000.

He said his company saw it important to root out the sale of all red-listed fish and hold all suppliers, managers and franchisees accountable for any red-listed seafood on their premises.

Proceeds from fines levied against franchisees and suppliers found guilty would be donated Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) or the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said Coppin. - Sapa