Pests are never a welcome sight, but that statement holds particularly true when it comes to areas of the facility where food is served. There are three common pests that often make their way into food service areas. And it is important for custodial executives to understand what pests frequent these areas and how to deal with an infestation, should one occur.

Cockroaches are a health hazard, so an infestation needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. These little pests can introduce and spread bacteria within a facility, which means building occupants can suffer from diarrhea, food poisoning and gastroenteritis.

Cockroaches are naturally attracted to areas where food is readily available, which means staffs should regularly check food service areas. Kitchens stay fairly warm, providing a perfect, moist environment for these little creatures.

Custodial executives that see cockroaches should not wait to remove them. Cockroaches are amazingly resilient; they can go without eating for weeks at a time, and they can access the indoors through the smallest of cracks.

Rats and mice are constantly looking for both food and shelter, which makes the food service area of a facility the ideal place to hide out. Unfortunately, building occupants tend to get very upset at the sight of a rodent, which means businesses can suffer as a result of an infestation.

Both mice and rats are fast, they can get in through very small spaces and they do carry disease. As if this isn’t reason enough to keep rodents out, they can actually cause fires as a result of the physical damage they inflict on a building.

Staffs should be on the lookout for signs indicating the presence of a rodent. This might include droppings, misplaced insulation or the presence of other nesting items. Once an infestation is suspected, immediate action should be taken for extermination.

As the weather warms up, flies can become abundant and, if not prevented, will cause numerous problems in food service areas. Not only are flies an annoyance, they can transmit pathogens and contaminate food by landing on it. Flies have been known to cause shingles, tuberculosis, salmonella and E.coli, among other things. If they make their way into a facility, flies are particularly attracted to food such as flour, cereal and beans.

Preventing Problems

Even the cleanest facility can have issues with pests. That’s why it is important to pay attention to areas in and around the facility that often draw these creatures in. Doing so can help minimize any potential for problems.

First, it is important to spend some time outside of the building. Outdoor dining areas should be swept well and tables need to be cleaned regularly. Sidewalks and patio spaces should be hosed off on a recurring basis. However, make sure workers do not leave any standing water around; doing so will only attract more pests.

If trash receptacles are being stored near facility entrances, move them immediately. Trash attracts pests, so making sure receptacles are not kept along the exterior wall of the facility will keep pests further away. All trash cans indoors should be emptied and cleaned with hot, soapy water on a regular basis. Regardless of whether the receptacle is indoors or out, it’s very important that they also have a tight fitting lid that will keep unwelcome pests at bay.

Inside the kitchen, foods that are particularly attractive to pests, such as sugar and flour, need to be placed in containers with tight fitting lids. To cut back on flies, invest in fly screens for the doors and windows, and consider purchasing an air curtain for the doors, as well.

Also, make sure the dining areas receive a lot of attention. Properly cleaning this space often involves regularly cleaning tables and counters, sweeping and mopping floors, washing chairs and checking seat cushion cracks for food and debris. Also, make sure workers don’t forget food storing stations and soda machines, which are particularly attractive to pests.

Finally, it is important to close up any gaps or cracks around pipes, drains, vents and wiring. This helps to keep out both bugs and rodents.

No one wants to deal with a pest infestation. Food service areas are unfortunately prone to a number of different small visitors. However, with a bit of work, it is possible to keep pests out of the facility. 

DEREK WHITNEY is a three-year veteran of Excel Termite and Pest Control in River Edge, New Jersey.

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