Pest control is important because pests (an organism, typically an insect, that sickens or annoys humans, hampers human activities, damages crops or food products, harms livestock, or causes damage to buildings) can carry harmful bacteria that can contaminate foods. This can cause illness or spoil food. Pests can also cause financial damage to food businesses and affect their reputation.
Pests are animals, birds or insects that contaminate food. They include:
- rodents, e.g. rats and mice
- flies and flying insects
- beetles and weevils
Problems caused by pests in a food business
Food can be contaminated by:
- bacteria - from pests and their droppings
- pests’ bodies - eggs, hairs, droppings, etc.
- chemicals - e.g., careless use of pest control bait
If you discover a pest control problem in your premises:
- contact a pest contractor immediately
- contact your Environmental Health Officer
- wash, disinfect and dry any equipment, surfaces or utensils pests may have been in contact with
- throw away any food pests may have touched - if in doubt, throw it away
- find out the cause of the infestation and make sure it can't happen again
- repair any structural defects immediately
- make your pest checks more frequent - at least every three months
- improve staff training. Make sure they can spot the signs of pest activity. Tell them to report problems immediately.
If you have frequent problems with pests, you may need to employ a pest contractor.
Reduce the risk of pests in your business
- Make sure the building is in good condition and repair. This will help stop pests getting in and also stop them nesting or laying eggs
- Pest proof the premises. Use wire mesh screens, seal holes and fit drain covers
- Fit insect screens on windows and doors that open directly into food preparation areas from outside. The screens must be removable for cleaning
- Use electronic fly-killing devices. Follow the manufacturers advice on the location, cleaning and maintenance of this equipment. Change bulbs annually
- Check your deliveries and do not accept a delivery if it shows signs of pests. Cover food waiting to be prepared. Keep external areas tidy. Make sure bins have close fitting lids and are easy to clean.
You may decide to employ a pest control company to regularly check the premises. A pest control contract should include:
- checking for the presence of all pests
- monitoring the pest proofing of the premises
- eradication of any infestations found
- providing 24-hour emergency cover and a written report after each visit. Keep any pest contractor report as part of your documentation
Check all areas of your food premises regularly for signs of pests such as rodent droppings, smear marks, insect egg cases and dead insects. If you discover a problem, take immediate action.