A screenshot of a rat eating food on display at the Food Lovers Market at the Diepkloof branch. Picture from Twitter.
Johannesburg - Food Lovers Market have denied taking rejected and unwanted  products to their Diepkloof, Soweto branch which is currently  in the news after a video  of a rat eating food on display there surfaced.

Neville Meintjies, legal and compliance director at Food Lovers Market made the denial after customers called Radio 702 on Monday morning, complaining about the quality of food as well as hygiene practices at the Diepkloof store.

One caller, Penny said: "Most of the fruit and vegetables are not fresh, it's like they're bringing the rejects to the township."

One man said his son had bought a quarter chicken at the shop only to find that they were rotten when he cooked them while another caller, Zanele, said she had stopped going to the store because the last time she went there, fleas were everywhere and the liver she had bought was dripping with black blood.

"It's a health hazard and needs to be shut down," Zanele said.

Meintjies said it was clear that the customers had had bad experiences.

"It's not acceptable to us and we will do everything to address the issue," he said.

However, it was not true that they take reject products to the Soweto branch, Meintjies said.

"That's absolutely not the truth. We maintain a high standard. There's no distinction or differentiation between what goes to one store or another. If the standards in that particular store are not being properly maintained, then they need to address management, they need to address the owner

"There is certainly no policy or any form of distinction drawn between any of our stores whether corporate or franchise," he said.

According to Meinjties, there had been issues with the Diepkloof store in the past and they addressed that with management.

At the moment, there's a huge outcry after the rat video went viral on social media, leaving many people appalled.

Meinjties said seeing the video had been quite distressing and that Food Lovers has launched an investigation.

"We have to find out what the source of the rat problem is. It's known that in the area where this particular shopping centre is, there has been a historical  rat problem and not necessarily relating to the mall itself but in fact possibly the surrounding areas."

According to Meintjies, routine pest control at the store was done as recently as Sunday as well as during the  course of December.

"We are assuming at this point in time that (the rat infestation) is from outside.  We haven't yet been able to determine if there's a source of rodent infestation in the shop itself," he said.

The Star