Supermarkets and food manufacturers in rundown and out of town areas are under threat from a rat epidemic, according to pest control firm Terminix. The latest Rodent Report by the National Pest Technicians' Association claims brown rat populations have risen 24% in three years. Terminix technical manager Andy Purcell said the trend had been reflected in a dramatic surge in call-outs to deal with rats in retail parks. Purcell said landscaping provided cover and that grocery multiples invited trouble by allowing food to accumulate under shelving, not collecting food deliveries immediately and failing to manage waste effectively. "Inside stores, inadequate cleaning under cereal, pet food and confectionery racking encourages rats," he added. {{NEWS }}