Food & Beverage Service Pest Control
Restaurateurs and the like don’t let people eat for free, so why would they let vermin do it? Sadly, pests represent a major reason for food loss. According to the Economic Research Service division of the USDA, nearly one-third of all available food disappears due to food loss. A technical term, “food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria.” In 2010, the United States saw 141 trillion calories of potential food vanish — and much of that was due to pests.
We here at Smithereen know the value of keeping rodents, insects, birds, and other nuisances away from food and beverage-based businesses. Our food pest control service offerings can protect both your business and your customers from spoilage and disease.
Go into Your Next Inspection with Confidence!
Why Pest Control Is Crucial for the Food Industry
Calling the food and beverage industry “broad” is an incredible understatement. Agriculture, processing, storage, retail, and food service only begin to scratch the surface of this wide and vital field. However, virtually all aspects share something in common: They acknowledge that pest control in food industry makes food safer, cheaper, and more widely available.
How do pest control measures in food business achieve this? Perhaps the best place to start is with the pests that most typically threaten the food industry at every level. These include:
Birds – At first glance, birds may not seem like serious threats to food safety. However, they can jeopardize the production, storage, and delivery of food at every link of the value chain. Birds consume various agricultural products prior to harvesting. They can damage storage and containment facilities. And they may spoil a dining experience by snatching at food, depositing unsanitary droppings that could develop into a slip-and-fall risk, and creating an undesirable image.
Mice, rats, & other rodents – These spreaders of the bubonic plague need little introduction. The CDC notes that, “worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.” Additionally, failing to address pest and rodent control in food safety or pest control in food processing plants can lead to regulatory violations and stiff penalties.
Cockroaches – Although cockroaches don’t spread as much disease as rodents, flies, and ticks, they still can cause salmonella poisoning, and some of the pathogens they carry are linked to dysentery, gastroenteritis, and tuberculosis. Still, the sight of cockroaches communicate that an area isn’t clean, and given the FDA’s declaration that “the food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world,” any indication of cockroaches will bring a swift response from consumers and regulators alike.
Weevils, moths, beetles, & other stored product pests – While experts acknowledge that stored product pests can encompass a wide variety of pests, including everything from rats to fungi, most use the term to include weevils, moths, and beetles. These pests have different physical characteristics and prefer to consume different kinds of food. But they usually share a number of commonalities, including:
- The ability to damage food at any every point in their development
- The ability to bore through end-product storage materials such as plastic, cardboard, and paper
- A multi-continent presence
How Integrated Pest Management Can Help
Civilizations have struggled against these pests for millennia, but only in recent years have we managed to combine effective control with an approach that’s safe for people and the environment. That approach is called integrated pest management (IPM). The CDC explains, “IPM uses a variety of pest management techniques that focus on pest prevention, pest reduction, and the elimination of conditions that lead to pest infestations. IPM simply means (1) don’t attract pests, (2) keep them out, and (3) get rid of them, if you are sure you have them, with the safest, most effective methods.”
SOP for pest control in food industry should follow IPM principles. In practice, any sample pest control program for food industry or food service should look something like the following:
- Inspection and identification – Before any type of pest remediation can occur, professionals must first determine which pest or pests are present, as well as the size of their populations. Sometimes what can seem like a problem with a single type of pest can involve multiple colonies of different species, which require different strategies to combat.
- Site evaluation – Pests never appear on their own. Mitigating factors (which usually include site-specific features) virtually always contribute. After determining what kind of threat you’re dealing with, a pest-control professional will determine specific characteristics related to the client’s property or business process that has facilitated the infestation.
- Setting threshold levels – This is a practical outworking of the cost-benefit analysis practices so typically seen in most businesses. Because it sometimes isn’t practical to eliminate every single pest around a property, clients and professionals set practical limits and tailor their treatment plans around them.
- Remediation – Professionals address a client’s current pest problem, either eliminating it entirely or bringing it within acceptable levels.
- Addressing environmental controls – The CDC says that “the foundation of IPM is managing the environment to eliminate pest access to food, water, and shelter. Using control techniques that focus on eliminating at least two of these essentials that pests need to survive will result in substantial reductions in pest populations.”
- Monitoring – Because pests rarely rest, pest-control professionals and their clients can’t either. Successfully eliminating pests means consistently monitoring for their presence and dealing with any outbreaks prior to having them become serious problems. During repeated inspections, pest-control professionals will ensure that environmental control have remained in place and that pest populations continue to meet mutually agreed upon thresholds.
What Prevention Measures Are Recommended?
Every client’s situation is invariably unique, and different sites require different measures to address pest problems. Still, IPM principles provide a guideline for any food or beverage-related business, no matter if it provides industrial storage or is a neighborhood’s favorite corner café.
The most important prevention recommendation we would suggest is to get a professional involved. DIY solutions work well when dealing with a few flies or a single mouse, but there’s too much at stake for your business to trust to your own devices. Stored product pests can easily destroy valuable inventory. Birds and other wildlife may damage your property’s exterior and scare off customers and clients. And the presence of cockroaches could very well draw regulatory attention, which might shut down your facility indefinitely.
Fortunately, Smithereen understands that one of the biggest threats to your business is pest activity, no matter how small. From drive-ins to white tablecloth, Smithereen has a tailored Integrated Pest Management Program that will protect your customers from pests that jeopardize health and safety. Our specialized teams can provide service at any time, day or night, to suit your needs with a proactive pest prevention approach that relies on partnership, problem solving, and communication. Smithereen will guard your image and the reputation of your food and/or beverage business.