Mosquitoes flying around

Avoiding Infestation – What Should Food Workers do to Prevent Pests?

February 22, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Anywhere there’s food, pests will likely be interested—and restaurants and food processing facilities are particularly vulnerable to infestations due to the high volume of food coming and going daily. Below, we’ll outline some of the most common pest issues and how you can educate your staff to prevent infestations.

What are the most common pests in restaurants and food processing facilities?

Restaurants and food processing facilities have plenty of similarities when it comes to pest control. Here are some of the most common pests and the areas they frequently target:

  • Rats and miceRodents are a top priority for pest control in restaurants and food-processing facilities due to their ability to breed quickly and contaminate large amounts of product. Rodents often sneak into boxes close to the floor, making stock rotation a must.
  • AntsAnts have a powerful sense of smell that can lead them to even the tiniest crumbs or spills. Ants are unlikely to make their home inside your business, but you may find them gathering food anywhere they can. 
  • Cockroaches – An abundance of food and water combined with many places to hide make food-related businesses the perfect spot for cockroaches to call home. Health inspectors could close your business if there’s even a single sighting, making pest control critical.
  • Pantry pestsMoths, flies, beetles, and weevils can infest packaged food and lay their eggs right in the food source.

Two Dirty House Flies on a piece of red meat

How pests affect health regulations

Generally speaking, the presence of pests in businesses that handle or serve food is taken very seriously by health authorities. This is because many pests are known disease vectors that can contaminate food served to the public. 

Specific regulations and penalties depend on your state and your local or county laws. Penalties vary based on the extent of the infestation, whether you can prove that you’ve taken preventative steps, and whether or not you’ve had previous infestations. A first-time penalty, for example, could be a 24-hour closure to allow for pest control and sanitization, with a follow-up inspection to ensure compliance, although this is just an example and you should be familiar with your own local regulations and penalties. If the infestation is particularly bad, it could result in the permanent closure of your business. 

In addition to serious health concerns, pests in your facility can impact your reputation. Once a business is known to have rodents, cockroaches, or other vermin, that reputation can be hard to shake.         

How food workers can prevent pests

Working in the food industry revolves around food safety, and there are many things that you and your staff can do to avoid pest infestations.

  1. Clean up spills right away. Leaving a spill for too long or not thoroughly cleaning it up can attract pests like flies and cockroaches. Pull out any equipment near the spill and ensure the area is cleaned and sanitized to keep pests away.
  2. Clean sink and floor drains weekly. Even if your sinks and floors are spotless, the drains connected to them collect buildup that’s attractive to pests. Use a drain cleaning scrubber to get down into the gunkiest parts.  
  3. Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible. Many pests breed so quickly that even a few scooting in through an open door can put you at risk of an infestation or at risk of startling a diner. 
  4. Check your weather stripping and screens each season. Keeping doors closed as much as possible is a great start, but if there are rips in screens or gaps in weather stripping, pests can find a way in. Small tears in window screens are easy to patch with a kit from your local hardware store. 
  5. Manage garbage and dumpster areas. Pests love garbage. Part food source, part breeding ground, garbage cans and dumpsters are pest havens if they’re not cleaned regularly. The best way to keep pests out of the garbage is to empty, clean, and sanitize them daily. A sealed enclosure for your garbage and recycling area is a great way to keep unwanted visitors from snacking on trash.
  6. Hire a professional pest control company. Routine treatments from a pest control company add an essential layer of protection from future infestations. 

Pest control solutions for food workers 

There are plenty of pest control solutions that restaurants and food processing plants can take to avoid pest infestations, but sometimes you need to call in the pros. Hawx Pest Control uses industry-leading products and equipment to address both large and small pest issues. No matter the size of your facility or restaurant, Hawx service providers are ready with solutions for current infestations and to create customized treatment plans to help prevent future problems.

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