New Zealand: Rat’s Foot in Garlic Bread Points to Home as Likely Source

April 25, 2024

An unsettling discovery of a rat’s foot in a loaf of garlic bread last month in Waikato has taken a surprising turn as officials now suggest the foot most likely originated from the complainant’s own home. Despite initial concerns, an investigation by New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) has ruled out the commercial supply chain as the source of the foot.

The incident unfolded when a Waikato mother found the rat’s foot in a packet of garlic bread purchased from Pak’nSave Te Awamutu. Foodstuff’s promptly recalled the bread from all stores following the complaint. However, NZFS’s findings have shifted the focus to the complainant’s residence as the probable source of contamination.

Vincent Arbuckle, NZFS deputy director-general, clarified that thorough investigations excluded the bread’s maker, distributor, distribution center, and retailer as possible sources of the foot. While acknowledging the complaint was raised in good faith, Arbuckle emphasized the importance of evidence-based inquiries in matters of food safety.

A significant revelation from the investigation was that the garlic bread had undergone two rounds of cooking – during manufacturing and again in the home – while the rat foot remained raw. This observation strongly suggests that the foot was introduced to the food after it was cooked, implicating the home environment.

Investigators looked at all the stages in the garlic bread’s production and found:

  • The garlic bread manufacturer, French Bakery, had good food safety procedures in place and had no evidence of rodent activity over the past two years.
  • The transportation and storage facility, Big Chill and Foodstuffs North Island Distribution Centre, had good procedures in place. All pallets containing the product are plastic wrapped. There was no evidence of damage to wrapped product and a review of CCTV footage revealed no suspicious activity while the order was being packed.
  • The retailer, Pak’n’Save Te Awamutu, only added a label to the outside of the product. There was no evidence of any issues related to the complaint.
  • The complainant confirmed the bread was cooked in the home before serving.

Despite the unsettling nature of the incident, a comprehensive review of the garlic bread’s production, distribution, and sale yielded no evidence of any issues. Arbuckle assures NZFS’s commitment to holding food businesses accountable for food contamination and ensuring corrective actions are implemented when necessary.

He emphasized that while incidents like these garner attention, the majority of food businesses in New Zealand uphold rigorous standards to produce safe food, with mechanisms in place to safeguard against contamination.

Share this:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter