Business and Operations
Health & Safety
Ingredients for a pest-free reputation
By Alice Sinia PhD
Use IPM to protect your business and your customers
By Alice Sinia PhD
Foodborne illness is a constant threat to the foodservice industry and consumers.
Foodborne illness is a constant threat to the foodservice industry and consumers. Roughly four million Canadians, or one in eight, suffer from food poisoning each year. The consequences can be severe for customers as well as companies, which risk damage to their reputation, fines and loss of business licences. Flies, rodents and cockroaches are the primary sources of contamination for food. Whether or not they lead to illness, having just one of these pests spotted in your facility is enough to generate negative word of mouth. Protecting your business, and most importantly your customers, from these pests begins with an integrated pest management (IPM) approach.
IPM focuses on proactive facility maintenance and sanitation measures to eliminate the factors pests need to survive. Using IPM to mitigate the risk of foodborne illness requires knowing what pests cause it, what attracts them and how to combat them.
Flies are always unsightly in restaurants and kitchens, but these pests also can transmit more than 100 pathogens, from E.coli, to Salmonella and Staphylococcus. Because of their filthy breeding and feeding habits, they carry pathogens on their body and leave them behind every time they land. It’s critical to prevent flies from coming in and around your facility. Hanging insect light traps attract flies using ultraviolet light, capturing them on a non-toxic adhesive board inside the unit. The devices are silent and discreet, so you can place them in many locations without worrying about the buzzing noise or contamination from airborne insect parts associated with traditional bug-zappers. Discreet sticky-surfaced fly traps also are effective for controlling small flies such as fruit flies and phorid flies. Maintenance and sanitation measures, such as frequently taking out trash; cleaning drains and hard-to-reach areas, like under equipment and in tile grout; caulking cracks and crevices in window sills and doors; power-washing trash cans and dumpsters; and keeping food preparation areas clean and free of crumbs and spills will also help keep flies away from your pies.
Rodents are known to carry more than 40 viruses and bacteria. They spread such diseases as Salmonella, Hantavirus and Trichinosis through their droppings and urine. Cracks and openings as small as your pinky finger can serve as entry points for rodents. These pests don’t like being out in the open, so be sure to eliminate areas such as overgrown landscaping, piles of cardboard boxes and wooden crates. Mechanical traps and non-toxic baits can be used to capture rodents that find their way inside. Recent technology can help identify the presence of rodents before they become a major problem. Electronic scanning to capture and record data that measures pest activity trends. They can help facilities identify pest hot spots, and allow management and pest management professionals to tackle the problem immediately. Having electronic copies of all pest management reports also can save you time and hassle when it comes time for an inspection, since as far as an inspector is concerned, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.
Cockroaches are laden with bacteria that can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and dysentery. They pick up these diseases by walking into contaminated areas and spread them to food directly or by walking on food preparation surfaces. These pests also reproduce quickly, making prevention key to protecting against an infestation. Simple sanitation and facility maintenance steps can help deter cockroaches: not leaving food out overnight, frequently taking out the trash, thoroughly cleaning all food preparation areas and cleaning up spills and crumbs immediately.
Protecting your products from contamination requires a continuous, company-wide commitment to pest management. Employees are the first line of defence against pests, so be sure to include all staff members in pest management efforts and establish specific roles for each person. An informed and active staff is critical to an effective IPM program.
Alice Sinia, PhD, is resident entomologist, regulatory/lab services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 10 years of experience, she manages the quality assurance laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orkincanada.com .