In 2007, the animation studio Pixar released its film Ratatouille, a kind-hearted comedic tale about imagination and French cooking. Much of the movie’s humor, though, owed to an odd fact about the character behind the title’s delectable cuisine: It was a rat. Having vermin who nosh on trash also cook gourmet grub proved delightfully horrible — at least in fiction. In real life, though, there’s nothing delectable about it, and pest control within restaurants is a big part of a restaurant’s operational responsibilities.
Not only can visible pests drive away customers, they also can cause restaurateurs to run afoul of local authorities. According to industry magazine QSR, “20 percent of a restaurant’s health inspection score is based on the pest control portion,” which means eateries have lots of incentives to implement effective restaurant pest control procedures. Read on to learn more about effective pest control measures in food businesses.
Contributing Factors to Pests in Your Restaurant
Like many factors in your business, some contributing factors to pest proliferation are within your control, while others aren’t. The pest control practices and insect control devices employed by neighboring businesses can impact your restaurant. So can your local climate. Certain kinds of pests may even use routine deliveries to hitch a ride onto your premises. These are all circumstances you should remain aware of, but over which you have little control.
However, several options remain well within restaurateurs’ preventative purview. Not leaving out scraps, grime, or water that might attract kitchen bugs is an obvious step. So is cleaning problem areas such as trash bins, sinks, drains, light fixtures, and storage or stock rooms. However, you should also remember that pests typically make their way into a property through unintended ingresses such as holes or cracks in masonry or windows. QSR notes that rodents can gain access through a hole no bigger than a dime and cockroaches only require a space 1/16th of an inch wide to get in. A common-sense solution that managers and owners can add to their restaurant pest control checklist is to conduct regular maintenance assessments and repair any trouble spots.
Potential Risks & Hazards of Pests in Restaurants
The most obvious risk of your restaurant dealing with a pest infestation in kitchen or dining area is a loss of business. Word of mouth travels quickly, and no diner will want to recommend an eatery with buzzing flies, rodent droppings, or an on-record code violation. A bad reputation, though, is far from the worst risk posed by pests.
Consider the humble fly, an incredibly common insect — and an equally incredibly dirty one. Citing a study out of Penn State University on houseflies and blowflies, WebMD noted that “both types of flies feed on rotting organic matter and feces, which exposes them to a wide assortment of problematic bacteria. Some of the flies carried hundreds of different bacteria species, including ones known to be harmful to humans.” These include familiar microorganisms like E. coli and Salmonella.
Things get even more distressing when we consider the health threats posed by mice, rats, and the like. They can carry and transmit both hantavirus and a nasty kind of meningitis, one that can cause troubling complications for pregnant women especially. And that’s just the start. The evidence is clear: You simply can’t ignore the possibility of pests in your restaurant.
Common Pest Control Services for Restaurants
While prevention and ongoing monitoring remain the best pest control measures in food business, sometimes you still find yourself facing a pest problem. That’s when you need to call a professional. Indeed, your business and reputation may very well depend on it.
Pest control in restaurants should follow very specific guidelines, no matter if it’s kitchen pest control or pest control throughout other parts of the premises. It starts with technicians conducting an exterior and interior survey of your structure’s construction and sanitation. This allows them to identify any problem areas that might contribute to insect, rodent, or wildlife issues. It will also provide a set of guidelines for owners and managers to follow so that they won’t require future remediation.
Next, your technicians should address your current infestation using integrated pest management (IPM) principles. This might involve the installation of interior and exterior traps, as well as interior and exterior pesticides, which may leave residue or may not depending on your specific situation.
Finally, your pest control company will continue to monitor your property to ensure that no further outbreaks occur. This may involve more pesticide applications, although any resurgences of pests should be more limited and localized. Understand that it may take some time to completely resolve the situation.
During this process, technicians may recommend that you install specific kinds of permanent traps or make repairs to the premises. You should make every effort to follow these suggestions, because failing to do so could very well lead to additional pest issues later on.
What Restaurants Need to do Before Pest Control Arrives
The steps that restaurants ought to take prior to pest control professionals arriving look a lot like what owners of residential properties should do. To start with, they should ask their pest control company for counsel as to how to prepare for their arrival. Most companies will gladly provide just such counsel. However, if they don’t, you can still follow a number of best practices, which include:
- Repairing any evident external damage that could let in pests
- Thoroughly cleaning sites where pests were noticed
- Removing live plants or animals and covering fish tanks to prevent overspray
- Toss out all garbage
- Place perishables in airtight containers or plastic
- Scheduling the service outside of your normal hours of operation
Educate the Staff About Pest Control Prevention
Fortunately, once you’ve plugged up obvious places where pest can enter your restaurant, you can usually stop potential outbreaks before they occur — just so long as your staff follows proper practices. Such habits aren’t difficult, but habitually failing to put them into practice will provide a welcoming home to all sorts of nuisances. Some of these steps are:
- Promptly removing finished plates from outdoor areas
- Keeping your kitchen scrupulously clean each and every day
- Installing baits or electric traps around brightly lit areas that regularly draw insects
- Regularly cleaning your patio area
- Refusing to let trash sit any longer than necessary
- Incentivizing your staff to report potential infestations
If you’d like more counsel on how to best control pests in your restaurant, contact or call Smithereen Pest Management Services at (800) 336-3500. We have more than a century of experience in dealing with bugs, rodents, wildlife, and other undesirable critters.