You Are What You Eat – Pest Control in Restaurants

It’s your typical Tuesday afternoon lunch rush hour. Your customer walks into a restaurant. She breathes in deeply to smell the richness of the flavors in the air – the baked bread, the bubbling soups, the sugary desserts. She asks to be seated and she begins to look at the menu. And then, out of the corner of her eye, she sees a tail dart under the kitchen door. And then, she walks out the front door. And never returns.

As a restaurant owner, you never want this situation to happen to you. Not only did you lose a paying customer (and possibly other present customers who saw her walk out), you lose future business from her friends, colleagues and anyone else she tells about your pest problem. And even worse? Where there is one mouse, there are probably a lot more, and they put you at risk of failing your next health and safety inspection. This needs to be avoided at all costs as it may literally start costing you a fortune from the loss of business. Trust me, there are many examples that absolutely crippled a restaurant, definitely not what you want.

Common Restaurant Pest Control Issues

Rodents and flies are two of the most common pest problems restaurants deal with. Both types of pests carry different kinds of disease, reproduce quickly and leave behind pathogen-covered filth and droppings. A single female mouse can reproduce an average of five to ten litters of five young every year – with a few female mice in your restaurant, their young will be reproducing themselves in no time. Left in your food storage, you may mistake mouse droppings for rice grains and rat droppings for raisins! The droppings of rats and mice, as well as shed fur and saliva, can bring a number of diseases into your establishment, including salmonellosis, plague and hantavirus.

Flies can enter your establishment through open windows and doors, but did you know fly larvae can enter hidden within your food shipments, too? Flies can carry everything from typhoid fever, cholera and diarrhea to dysentery, tuberculosis and anthrax, while rat feces and shed hair can carry salmonellosis, the plague, rat-bite fever and more, not to mention the diseases of fleas and ticks carried in by these rodents. With sponging mouthparts that allow them to extract nutrients from decaying organic matter, flies regurgitate excess food waste onto items they land on. Pathogens are then transmitted from their mouthparts to become attached to their legs.

Other common pest problems in restaurants include cockroaches, beetles and moths, all capable of increasing the contamination of your building and food with bacterial viruses they carry.

Minimizing Your Pest Risks

There are a few key things restaurant managers should do to minimize pest risks:

  1. Install exclusion screen doors and window screens. Do so in every door and window facing the exterior, including in the rooms out of your customer’s sight. These screens will limit any insects ability (such as stink bugs or even kissing bugs) to enter your establishment during operating hours and throughout the rest of the day and night, while allowing you to have your main windows and doors open in areas that may welcome a breeze during warmer months.
  2. Take advantage of insect attraction to lighting by installing insect fly lights to lure and trap flying pests on the glue boards installed with the light fixtures.
  3. Store trash containers outside and away from the doors and exterior walls of your business. Whether you currently have indoor pest problems or not, decaying food in your trash will attract both insects and nuisance wildlife, so properly sealing and distancing it from your restaurant is critical.
  4. Make a consistent cleaning program that includes the proper rotation of food supplies and other stock, allowing you to thoroughly inspect all of your storage areas and clean or treat as needed.
  5. Thoroughly inspect every shipment you receive. You may think you’ve eradicated the pests in your restaurant today, but if there are mice sneaking into your delivery of hamburger buns tomorrow, you’ll have to start all over again.
Picture of problematic pest control in restaurants

Pest Control In Restaurants

Pest control treatments can work to solve your insect and rodent issues, but it is up to you to ensure that you have done everything you can to prevent them. What many restaurant managers fail to realize is that, while customized pest control programs are extremely important, the process starts with regular maintenance and upkeep of sanitary conditions. Sanitation is the first step in a pest management program – and without proper sanitation techniques being undertaken and regularly followed by restaurant management and staff, very few pest issues will be permanently resolved. Work in conjunction with a customized treatment plan provided by your local pest control expert, and you will make great strides in reducing your risk for pest control issues.

There once was a restaurant dealing with a massive rat problem for a number of weeks. While the pest control technician was there, he noticed a tail sticking out of the giant stockpot of soup. As it turned out, that rat had been the soup the chefs had been serving customers all week!

Don’t let this happen at your restaurant. Keep your restaurant clean, inspect it regularly and get in contact with your local pest control technician to start designing the pest control maintenance program to keep hungry customers walking into your restaurant and leaving satisfied.

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