Pests are sneaky creatures that can wreak havoc in your restaurant, grocery store, or other food facility. They present many different types of hazards and that could be extremely harmful to the customers you serve.
Preventing pests from entering your establishment is the best way to avoid a pest infestation. How can you do that? Follow these simple steps!
Step 1: Prevent entrances
Pests can find their way in through the smallest places and holes. To help prevent pests from entering your establishment, fill in any holes or cracks in your walls and ceiling, both on the inside and outside of the building.
Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. You can also use an air curtain at entrances to help keep bugs from flying or crawling into your facility.
Step 2: Keep it clean
Remember to clean and sanitize your facility often to remove any extra food or debris that could be appealing to pests. Cleaning areas, including non-food-contact surfaces, is critical to deterring pests from entering your establishment.
In addition to cleaning, you should take out the garbage before it gets too full. Also, keep a tight-fitting lid on garbage can receptacles when they are not in use. Remember to do this for your outside dumpster, too!
Be sure to store all garbage inside dumpsters. If you notice your dumpster getting full before your garbage collector is scheduled to take it, contact your waste management collector to see if they can pick it up early.
Step 3: Eliminate food, water, and shelter sources
Pests will be attracted to places that are warm and have food and water. It’s important to eliminate these sources so pests won’t be attracted to your facility.
Store food at least 6 inches above the ground and keep equipment sealed to the counter or floor, or mount equipment so it is at least 6 inches above the counter or ground. Clean under equipment often!
You should also check food that is received into your facility for signs of pests. When receiving food, check for gnaw marks on packaging, droppings around the packaging, or a strong smell of ammonia (indicates rat urine). Reject any shipments that you think could be contaminated by pests.
What to do if you see signs of a pest infestation
Sometimes pests can find ways into your establishment, even if you have worked to prevent them. Look for indications, like mouse pellets, or small, pepper-like droppings. You might also find insect carcasses, nests, or an oily odor from flies, mice, or cockroaches respectively.
If you find that you have a pest infestation, report the problem to your manager. They will work with a licensed Pest Control Operator (PCO) to safely rid the pests from your establishment. Throw away any food that you believe could have been contaminated and clean and sanitize any areas you believe the pests were.
Pests can transmit several diseases through food, which is why it’s so important to clean and sanitize thoroughly. Mice and rodents can carry and spread pathogens, like Hantavirus, through their droppings and urine. Flies can transmit Shigella bacteria, which is usually passed through the fecal-oral route.
Not only do pests have the potential to harm your customers’ health, they can shut down your business. If a pest infestation occurs at your establishment, your health department may require you to close your facility until you take care of it. Once the infestation is gone and the regulatory authority gives approval, you may reopen for business as usual.
For more information about pest control and foodservice, check out our food manager training.
— Janilyn Hutchings
Download/print cartoon: Troy’s Pizza Pest Break-In