Jun 20, 2023
Kmart withdraws wooden trays after Govt biosecurity agency confirms pest infestation
Kmart has withdrawn a line of wooden trays over concerns of infestations by
Kmart has withdrawn a line of wooden trays over concerns of infestations by borer, an invasive wood-eating beetle species.
The alarm was raised by Michelle Reichardt, a Northland mother who found sawdust and holes in her serving tray and alerted the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), the government's biosecurity agency.
A spokesperson from MPI said the insect intruder had been identified as Lyctus africanus, also known as the African powderpost beetle, a species not present in New Zealand.
"The importer has recalled the trays pending further investigation and the infested item has been securely destroyed," the spokesperson said.
READ MORE: * Kmart product placed under biosecurity probe, concern about invasive wood-boring beetle * Plague of black worms, 'like they fell out of the sky', chomping Bay of Plenty gardens * Borer-infested wood gives this tiny cabin a fairytale presence
Meanwhile, Kmart's online listing for the $20 acacia serving tray has been replaced with a message that reads: "Product not found."
A Kmart spokesperson said all the trays had been "secured" to prevent any further release of insects. They said the "intention" was to destroy them, but that would ultimately be a decision for MPI,
"It's not as simplistic as sending them off for destroying immediately. The scope needs to be determined as not all product will be affected."
Reichardt made a post on social media that garnered hundreds of comments from people around the country citing similar experiences with products purchased from Kmart.
Following a story by Stuff others came forward, including Tauranga's Danelle Bourgeois. She’d bought a wooden bowl from Kmart in 2021.
"I was able to hear noises on and off over six months before I accidentally put my finger through the bowl," Bourgeois said.
She captured footage of a large grub gnawing inside the bowl. The bowl was sent to MPI and identified as Kulsi teak borer.
"I called biosecurity when I found it, and they had me freeze the entire thing immediately and sent it to them."
Georgina Drury bought wooden drawer liners from Kmart.
"Bugs were breeding inside it, and ate a hole into our new kitchen drawers. I ended up throwing them out for plastic ones," Drury said.
A spokesperson for Kmart previously told Stuff that wood-eating insects were an "industry-wide issue".
"Given the nature of the insects, unfortunately instances of infestation can occur on occasion.
"We want to assure our customers that Kmart is doing everything we can to address these issues."
Pest control expert Mark McDonald, aka "the Bug King", said responding to an outbreak of borer was difficult.
Affected wood could be coated with sodium borate, but that only kills borer once it emerges to the surface.
However, he said borer didn't present as much of a risk to people's homes as commonly thought because it can only burrow into soft wood or wood that has been exposed to moisture.
Anyone who finds a suspected exotic pest is encouraged to call MPI's hotline on 0800 80 99 66.READ MORE: * Kmart product placed under biosecurity probe, concern about invasive wood-boring beetle * Plague of black worms, 'like they fell out of the sky', chomping Bay of Plenty gardens * Borer-infested wood gives this tiny cabin a fairytale presence