Looking back on 2023

5 ways to prepare your business for winter pests

Each new season brings its own set of pest challenges, especially for facilities dealing with foods. In our latest blog we consider the pests businesses need to be mindful of in winter months and offer tips as to how you can leave them out in the cold.

What types of pests can you expect in winter?

The cold and damp weather conditions of winter often force pests like rodents, squirrels, and birds to seek shelter indoors.

Like us humans, they are all on the lookout for shelter, warmth, and food, which unfortunately makes a lot of commercial premises incredibly appealing to them. And food businesses, in particular, are like five-star hotels!

Where might you find pests on your premises?

Production areasthese are a pest’s dream as it’s likely they will have plenty of food debris, moisture, and shelter and lots of places to hide until the coast is clear!

Storage areas – these areas generally have less foot traffic making for a welcome hiding place for sleepy pests.

Loading areas – Small pests like cockroaches, ants and spiders, rodents and mice can easily enter facilities via delivery vehicles and shipping containers so be vigilant about checks when deliveries arrive. In fact, be vigilant about anything and anyone that comes into your premises – they all have potential to bring unwanted pests.

Roof spaces – Squirrels, birds and rats are common roof dwellers who are always on the lookout for voids no matter how tiny! Once inside they can make nests, create a mess, and cause damage and, should they choose to chew through electrical cables, you have an increased risk of fire.

Canteen/ staff rooms – Leftover meals, spilled sugar from the morning coffee rush and overflowing bins can attract a flurry of pest activity in no time at all.

Drains and bathrooms – These moisture rich areas prove to be welcoming conditions for cockroaches, beetles, and flies.

How can I prevent pests entering my property in winter?

  1. Protect the outside of your premises

If you can stop pests at the front door, you’re at an advantageous start. We suggest getting a pest controller to carry out an audit on your building to help to identify potential entry points for pests. They will also be able to advise on steps which should be taken to ensure protection i.e. sealing up cracks and crevices, or replacing broken ventilation covers.

  1. Be vigilant about cleanliness

In food premises, cleanliness should be a given, but it is also important for businesses of all types to promote good hygiene among employees. Make sure employees are vigilant about maintaining hygiene standards in communal areas, and if you have cleaning staff, be prescriptive in your expectations of them.

  1. Implement proper storage procedures

Make sure your employees are practicing stringent storage procedures for goods in. Properly spacing out storage containers can help reduce the number of pest hiding places and removing excessive packaging ensures pests don’t have additional hideouts. Watch out for rodents, which are known to chew through cardboard boxes, so any overflowing recycling piles will be very appealing to them.

  1. Set up pest monitoring systems

Conventional methods of pest detection often rely on visible signs of an infestation, such as droppings, structural damage, or pest sightings. By the time these signs are evident, the infestation has typically advanced to a stage where it’s more difficult and costly to manage. Sensor technology, on the other hand, allows for the early detection of rodents, often before visible signs are apparent.

  1. Train staff on how to spot and report signs of pest activity

Ask your pest controller if they can carry out staff training for you. Your employees are the eyes and ears of the business, so if they are tuned in to potential signs and persistent hot spots, they can flag any issues quickly.

We hope this you a good understanding of ways you can effectively help keep pests out of your facility this winter. Be sure to involve your pest control provider in your plans, as they are a key partner in prevention.

If you’d like to speak to a professional pest controller about an audit or staff training, get in touch here.

Building pest control into your construction and renovation projects

Building new, or refurbishing existing premises is an exciting time, but it can also attract unwanted visitors.

If you fail to be mindful of pests during each stage of your build/renovation works, you are potentially setting yourself up for problems at a later date.

Which is why it is imperative to make pest management a key component in your construction plans.

Why does a construction phase attract pests?

There are a number of reasons why building works attract pests. If it’s a completely new construction, works can disturb pests from their natural habitat and force them to search for a new location that provides shelter, water, and food – all necessary for their survival. That new location may well be your building, leaving you vulnerable to infestation.

It is certainly worth, therefore, instructing a pest controller during the planning stage of your build.

How a pest controller can support the build:

  • Meet with you and your contractor to discuss how to incorporate pest management into the process. It’s important for both individuals to be on the same page and work as a team.
  • Look at initial project plans and suggest proactive pest control solutions to be considered within the build.
  • Assess pest activity in the area prior to construction to determine what preventive measures might be taken.
  • Advice on any activities which may exacerbate a pest issue and how you can minimise such disruption.

It is advisable to continue working with your pest professional throughout the build process to ensure strategic, joined-up action against pests for the long term. Expect to pay for your contractor’s time and written reports/advice – it’s a good investment.

Pest Control In Construction Projects

Typical activity might include:

  • Setting bait traps around building materials and the exterior of your facility.
  • Reminding workers to keep the construction site clean. Food, rubbish, and construction debris left behind can attract pests and should be disposed of daily.
  • Ensuring internal plans have factored in potential pest hot spots. For example, is there is a way to remove the worktops which link together perfectly if we need to address a pest control problem in that area, or is it a case of ‘once they’re in, they’re in’? The cook line planned for the new, state of the art open plan kitchen…is that on wheels so it can be pulled out for a deep clean and regular inspections? And lastly, have plenty of access panels been included into wall, ceiling, and floor voids? Pests, especially rodents, just love such voids and will use them to travel around a site undetected, only to appear in a place that you really don’t want them to and at a time that you really don’t want either.

When building works are almost complete, we can ensure all the necessary preventative measures have been carried out to reduce the risk of pests going forward.

This type of attention to detail doesn’t stop once the site is finished though – it’s important to realise that any work that is carried out on the site that punctures a wall, floor or a ceiling will create an access point for pests, or a point that pests can travel through, so it’s important that these holes are robustly sealed whenever they are created.

The common-sense approach to pest control can be summarised as follows:

Exclusion – “proof” buildings to make sure that pests can’t get in (getting a professional pest controller involved in the build phase is integral to this strategy)

Restriction – if total exclusion cannot be achieved (i.e. the business is part of a much larger multi occupancy building) then, as a minimum, take proofing measures to keep pests out of food handling and public/staff areas

Destruction – if Exclusion and Restriction are not carried out and there is an existing pest problem then measures need to be taken to rid the premises of the pest – this often involves toxic chemicals or other lethal methods. This can be likened to “closing the door after the horse has bolted” because the proofing work should have been done beforehand but it’s widely understood that sometimes this is necessary.

This E.R.D approach is the bedrock of sensible pest control and is also the least toxic approach. It just makes sense!

With pest management as a top priority from start to finish during your construction or renovation process, you can protect your investment from pests and build a solid reputation with customers in the years to come.

We take a professional and long-term view to pest control management in these situations and we guarantee that by taking such positive steps from the outset, you will have considerably less pest issues in the future.

Speak to us about your project.

Embracing Digital Innovation in Pest Control: The Power of Sensor Technology and AI

The pest control industry has long been rooted in traditional methods and tools, with seasoned professionals like us relying on keen observation and experience to tackle unwelcome pest intruders.

However, with the rise of digital advancements, particularly in sensor technology and artificial intelligence (AI), the industry is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation to the benefit of our staff and customers alike.

One area where digital innovation is making significant strides is in the detection of commonplace pests – rats and mice. Sensors equipped with motion detection, heat tracking, and even acoustic recognition are revolutionising how pest controllers identify and address rodent infestations.

In this blog, we discuss the rapidly increasing use of sensor technology in the field of pest control and how cutting-edge AI could become the most formidable weapon in the pest controller’s arsenal.

Rodents: A Growing Problem?

The fact that rodents plague commercial properties is nothing new; especially when it comes to tempting hospitality outlets where food and drink is available in abundance.

But there are other factors thought to be contributing to this increase, one of which is climate change. Recent warmer weather in the UK could create favourable conditions for rodents to produce more and larger litters and survive the winter months when dropping temperatures usually cull populations.

The pandemic may also have played a part as the many office blocks that emptied during lockdown provided quiet, warm, and safe places for rodents to establish nests.

Introducing Sensor Technology

Conventional methods of pest detection often rely on visible signs of an infestation, such as droppings, structural damage, or pest sightings. By the time these signs are evident, the infestation has typically advanced to a stage where it’s more difficult and costly to manage.

Sensor technology, on the other hand, allows for the early detection of pests, often before visible signs are apparent.

Once these sensors detect unusual activity indicative of a pest presence, they can send real-time alerts to pest control professionals. This allows for immediate intervention and prevents the infestation from developing further.

Moreover, sensor technology provides valuable data that can be used to create effective pest control strategies. Data can include information about when pests are most active, which areas they congregate, or what routes they take. This information can then be used to strategically place traps, apply treatments, or make deterrent modifications to the physical environment.

Sensor Technology Meets AI

Digital adaptation to pest control may start with the introduction of sensors, but it is not where it will end. Once feared as a job-stealer across various industries, AI is set to become an invaluable ally to the human pest controller.

Many professions have feared the rise of AI, not least marketers who saw the likes of ChatGPT as existential threats to their roles. After all, contemporary AI can craft persuasive copy, respond to customer queries, and even personalise content – tasks that humans traditionally handled.

However, far from making marketers redundant, AI has freed them from routine tasks, enabling them to focus on strategic priorities and deliver a superior service.

The same principle applies to pest control. AI will not replace pest controllers. Rather it will empower them by facilitating more effective data analysis, predicting infestation patterns, and enhancing decision-making. All of which contribute to more efficient and successful pest control strategies.

Sensor Technology and AI Combine

Imagine a scenario where sensors across a property feed data into an AI system. Using sophisticated algorithms, the AI will then analyse the data and predict pest behaviour, identify potential entry points, and even suggest optimal methods for eradication. This functionality would boost the effectiveness of pest controllers and enhance preventative measures, thereby reducing the likelihood of future infestations.

Less about ‘keeping up with the times’, the adoption of such technologies is more about delivering superior service, optimising resources, and ultimately, safeguarding public health and property. In an increasingly digital world, those pest controllers that fail to adapt risk being left behind.

The pest control industry stands to benefit immensely from the digital revolution. Sensor technology and AI are not threats to be feared but tools to be harnessed. As we move forward, the focus should be on integrating these technologies into existing workflows, upskilling pest control professionals to work alongside these digital tools, and continuously exploring new possibilities for innovation.

In this digital era, pest controllers are not only armed with traps and bait but also data and intelligence. This powerful combination, backed by human expertise, paves the way for a future where pest control is more precise, proactive, and efficient. It is a future to be embraced not with apprehension but with excitement for the opportunities it promises.

If you’d like to speak with us about our own sophisticated solutions to dealing with rodents, get in touch.

Keep pests at bay this summer

It’s officially summer.

While we, like everyone else, are fully embracing the sunny days and balmy evenings, so too are a range of pests, all primed and ready to create havoc within your establishment…if you let them.

Summer is a key trading period for all businesses within the hospitality sectors, with thirsty drinkers enjoy an al fresco tipple in pub beer gardens and diners filling tables in indoor and outdoor spaces at restaurants.

It’s great to see. But the rising temperatures can also lead to the arrival of some unwanted pests, which are irritating to guests and problematic for venue owners.

Why are there more bugs in summer?

Because bugs are cold-blooded, they’re more active and prolific during warmer temperatures. The summer also means an abundance of food and sunny days often bring them indoors to seek some shade.

In our latest blog we look at some of the biggest pest threats to hospitality venues this summer and what you can do to keep them at bay.

What summer pests are we dealing with?

Wasps & bees – We’ve all been there, wafting away wasps and bees from our plates and glasses and worried that we are their next target.

Wasps are more likely to sting than bees, but neither are pleasant while you’re trying to enjoy a drink or meal with family or friends.

Plus, there are people allergic to wasp venom and a sting from them can be lethal.

If you find that wasps are coming inside your venue, it may be indicative of a wasp nest nearby, so, if this is the case in your venue, you may wish to interrogate your surrounding area to find a potential source.

Ants – While not posing the same physical threat as a wasp or bee, these busy ant workers are always on the hunt for food and will frequently enter venues foraging for their next meal.

In particular, they love sweet substances, so imagine their joy when they land upon a fizzy drinks’ spillage!

While ants are not a risk to human health, they often present themselves in large numbers, which can be off-putting to potential guests and problematic if they enter a food preparation area.

It’s likely that an ant infestation will be coming from several nests, so don’t think that if you’ve destroyed one your problems are solved, look out for the next.

Cockroaches – They just LOVE the warmth, so summer temperatures mixed with hot kitchens and preparation rooms offer the perfect blend for them to thrive.

Cockroaches are mainly nocturnal creatures, so venue owners may be able to hide an infestation from innocent drinkers or diners, but at night, they pass the hours eating, mating and contaminating surfaces. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

The fact that they come out when no one is around means you are never completely certain where they’ve been and what food source has potentially been contaminated.

Flies  – Annoying, aren’t they? And to top it off there are so many different variations. Below we look at two of the most common flies which might affect your premises this summer:

House flies – These are generally a half/third inch long and greyish in colour with four dark, blackish stripes behind the head – they land very regularly which is the opposite to their relation the Lesser House Fly which tend to hang around light fittings in the middle of a room and only land at night. Both are equally annoying!

Houseflies are drawn to damp, unsanitary areas. Bins outside restaurants, for example, are likely breeding grounds.

These flies feed on almost any man-made or naturally occurring waste, so every business that has waste is at risk.

Its life cycle requires two to three weeks from egg deposition to adult emergence during warmer periods. They live only two to three days without food but can survive up to 50 days where food is available.

Females deposit an average of 400 to 600 eggs each so they can develop large populations rapidly.

Consider this issue in a restaurant where managing food waste is a constant challenge, and you could well be looking at serious problems that could affect your hygiene standards, and, in worse cases, see you shut down.

Fruit flies – These can be a problem year round, but are especially common during late summer/autumn because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables, making them a real danger to restaurants and bars.

Items such as tomatoes, melons, grapes and other perishable items are often the cause of an indoor infestation but these flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other unrefrigerated produce.

Such is their addiction to sweet, sticky products, fruit flies are very common anywhere where food is allowed to rot and ferment. The adult fruit fly is around 1/8 inch long and usually has red eyes. The front area of the body is tan and the rear area is black.

Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass.

Given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs and the entire lifecycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week. Again, it is something that can quickly get out of hand if the issue is not identified and tackled right away.

While both fruit and house flies are nuisance pests, the real danger is the potential they have to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms, which could lead to illness amongst your customers.

What can I do to stop these pests from ruining our summer trade?

There are a number of simple, yet effective ways in which you can prevent pests ruining your summer trade. Here’s our top tips:

  1. Make sure your bins are as far away from your building as possible. Make sure they have tight-fitting lids and are cleaned regularly.
  2. Ensure proper drainage to keep premises damp free.
  3. Get rid of waste and food as soon as possible and clean up food and drink spills immediately.
  1. In areas where food and drink are prepared or served, keep surfaces clean and tidy and make sure bottles of alcohol and containers storing food are sealed properly at the end of each shift. Fruit flies are particularly attracted to sweet drinks so it is good practice to clean beer mats daily and ensure ice wells, sinks and surfaces are thoroughly dried at the end of each day.
  1. Clean and store food contact equipment every day.
  2. Close doors windows and openings where you can.
  3. Use professional fly units and screens. There are a wide variety of professional fly units on the market to help you keep on top of flying insect pests in yourvenue. Your business should also install made to measure screens over windows and doors. These will ensure light and air can still flow through your buildings whilst keeping out unwanted visitors.
  4. Make sure your staff are educated about the potential threats to summer trade and how to minimise pest infestations. If everyone is vigilant, it can only help.

Speak to a pest controller about your summer pest issues

While there are a number of ways in which you can minimise pest disruption to your premises, we would always advise working with a pest control business if you wish to apply a controlled, long term strategy against pests. When seeking a pest control partner, find out:

Are they a member of a pest control body?

The most recognised body of for pest controllers in the UK is the British Pest Control Association (BPCA).  The BPCA promotes the highest standards of professionalism within the industry, allowing only organisations that prove their competence to join as members.

Do they come recommended?

An online search will quickly give you some background about the pest control businesses you might be considering using. What do their reviews look like? Are there any red flags? Is their social media following good and are comments positive or negative? Is there someone you trust in the sector to provide a recommendation? The more research you can carry out, the better the picture you are building about your potential new partner.

What are their service agreements?

Are they open about their offer or does it feel like they are trying to avoid questions about what is included in the cost and what isn’t? Carefully read any contract terms provided to fully understand what pests and services are covered, as well as any guarantees that may be given. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have. An honest pest controller will be more than happy to provide the answers.

Contact us today to find out how our highly trained technicians can eradicate your summer pest problem.

 

LED Fly Control Units: Why it might be Time to Make the Change

Electric fly control units are one of the most widely used and reliable devices for protecting food businesses from the nuisance and hygiene threats of flies and other winged insects.

LED alternatives to the traditional units are really starting to make their mark in the sector.

In this blog, we’ll take you through some of the reasons why businesses UK-wide are replacing traditional units with LED upgrades.

Introducing Electronic Fly Control units

Electronic fly control units emit ultraviolet light to attract insects which are electrocuted by the grid that sits in front of the bulbs or are caught on a sticky board behind the tubes.

They contain no toxic chemicals, so they are a safer option than other methods, such as pesticide-rich sprays and traps that can contaminate foodstuff and cause breathing difficulties for people with respiratory conditions.

However, traditional fly control units that use fluorescent bulbs are inefficient in all kinds of ways. Their various inefficiencies have led to the development of LED units, and the benefits of making the switch are compelling to say the least.

Low Energy, High Performance

LEDs require only 10% of the energy needed to power fluorescent bulbs. Not only does this means lower energy bills, but the lifespan of an LED bulb is up to 10 times longer.

Let’s look at an example to see what this means from a commercial point of view.

On average, a traditional fluorescent bulb unit consumes 66 watts of electricity per hour, so:

  • 66w consumption per 24 hours = 1584 watts per day
  • 1584 watts = 1.584 kilowatt hours (kw/h) per day
  • 584 kw/h per day = 578.16 kw/h per annum

If a kilowatt-hour costs £0.34, a fluorescent unit will cost £197 per annum to run.

 

Let’s compare these numbers with an LED unit that consumes 13 watts of electricity per hour. 

  • 13 watts consumption per 24 hours = 312 watts per day
  • 312 watts = 0.312 kilowatt hours (kw/h) per day
  • 312 kw/h per day = 113.88 kw/h per annum

With a kilowatt hour of £0.34, an LED EFCU will cost £39 per annum to run.

We recently calculated the annual cost of fluorescent bulbs against LEDs for one of our multisite clients:

Their current 460 fluorescent bulb units cost £197 per unit, per annum in electricity costs, which translates to a total of £90,620

That same organisation, with LED units at £39 per annum in electricity costs, would instead pay £17,940

That’s a saving of £72,320 per annum.

This isn’t a one-off saving – this is every year, forever! 

More Environmentally Friendly

As LEDs have a longer lifespan than fluorescent bulbs, they need replacing far less often. Coupled with their greater energy efficiency and absence of mercury phosphor or other toxic chemicals, LED Fly Control units result in lower electricity bills and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only does making the switch help reduce carbon footprints, but it also enhances credentials for organisations hoping to attain the recognised standard for Environmental Management Systems; ISO 14001.

More Durable, Convenient and Safe

Sometimes (more so with older units) the magnetic ballasts in fluorescent tube units produce a low-level and constant, and distracting humming noise. LED units, by contrast, are completely silent.

As LED bulbs use less power than fluorescent bulbs, they generate less than a fifth of the heat. This, in turn, reduces the risk of fire compared to traditional units and eliminates unwanted and unnecessary heat in working spaces that may be already sweltering.

Final Thought

Cheaper, safer, more durable, more energy efficient and better for the environment than legacy fluorescent fly control units, LED units are an obvious choice.

The units also kill flies quicker, maintain hygiene levels better than traditional fluorescent bulb units and can be quickly installed yourself without specialist knowledge required.

If you’d like to explore making a transition from fluorescent to LED, we are here to advise on the potential roll out process. Let’s chat.

 

Wasps and Bees: Understanding Their Role and How to Deal with Them

Wasps and bees are commonly found in many parts of the world, and we get more than our fair share of both in the UK. Although they look similar, they have distinct characteristics and behaviours, meaning we must approach them differently.

As a general rule of thumb, our advice is to leave them both alone as much as possible, but we know that sometimes intervention becomes necessary.

This blog takes a general approach to dealing with wasps and bees, including when their presence becomes problematic.

Wasps

Wasps are often considered a nuisance due to their painful stings and tendency to build nests in inconvenient locations. However, just like bees, they play an important role in pollination.

The general approach to dealing with wasps is to leave them alone rather than fast-track to extermination. However, more drastic action may be needed when they begin to congregate in numbers that are a little too large for comfort.

Wasp Nesting Behaviours

When nests are located in rural areas, they usually do not pose a significant threat. Still, when they build nests inside communal outdoor structures or the roof void of a building, their numbers can cause anxiety among people and animals alike.

The good news is that wasps never got the sustainability memo and do not reuse their nests, choosing instead to build new ones every year. If you find an abandoned nest (during the winter months, for example) in a loft-type space, you can simply cut it out and dispose of it. Alternatively, you could leave it in situ, but be aware that redundant nests can attract other insects and pests.

Destroying Wasp Nests

If wasps gather in sufficient numbers to pose a risk to humans or domestic animals, then it might be time to go for the nuclear option. Although the entrances and exits to nests can be hard to find, you need to locate one or the other for an effective insecticide treatment to be deployed outdoors.

Where a nest is inside a building, insecticides can be introduced through the side of the nest with an insecticidal lance. However, this can be hazardous, as the wasps will fly towards any light source to protect the nest. As such, the correct PPE must be worn, including a half or full-face respirator and, at the very least, a beekeeper’s veil or a full beekeeper’s suit.

After the nest has been treated, wasp activity will continue for several hours as the workers out feeding and finding food for the nest return. Usually, within 12 hours or so, the last wasps have gone.

Evenings are the best time to treat a wasp nest, as this is when most of the wasps are in the nest. However, in a busy wasp year, they can be treated anytime.

Bees

Contrary to popular belief, bees are not protected in the UK. However, they are essential pollinators, and their numbers have declined in recent years due to various factors such as pesticide overuse, habitat loss, and disease.

Common Types of Bees

Honey Bees

Honey bees are the most common type of bee people encounter. During May and June especially, honey bees swarm in numbers that can reach many thousands and they will attach themselves to any surface, from hedges and trees to walls and chimneys.

When honey bees attach themselves to a wall or a chimney, it can be the start of a serious problem, as they often migrate into the chimney shaft or wall cavity to establish a hive. Once the bees are inside this type of cavity, the honey they produce can seep through ceilings and walls and cause significant damage.

There is also a specific type of moth that is attracted to redundant bee nests, which can cause their own problems within buildings and can be difficult to eliminate.

Before it gets to this stage, call a local beekeeper. More often than not, beekeepers are happy enough to come and remove a swarm.

Bumble Bees, Tree Bees, and Mining Bees

These bees live in much smaller family units than honey bees and rarely cause problems for humans. Generally non-aggressive, they do not sting unless threatened.

Leave them alone if possible, and they will return the favour.

Final Thought

Wasps and bees are both important insects in their own right, although wasps can be a nuisance and pose a risk to humans and domestic animals. Bees, meanwhile, are crucial pollinators and contribute extensively to ecosystems.

It is always best to leave bees alone where possible, and the same can be said for wasps until they pose a serious threat. At this point, taking the necessary precautions and wearing the appropriate PPE to avoid harm is essential. Otherwise, bring in the professionals.

The Cost of Ignoring Common Food Pests in Restaurants and Food Retailers

‘Pest’ is a broad term for any type of organism that can be detrimental to human health or property, and generally includes insects such as ants, cockroaches, and flies, and rodents like mice and rats.

Especially for businesses that prepare or sell food and drink to the public, they are a problem that, if not managed competently, can lead to permanent closure.

When common pests enter and become established within a restaurant, they cause a range of potential risks that can quickly become serious. They can destroy hygiene standards, contaminate food, damage property, and often lead to a range of health and safety issues for customers and employees alike.

In this blog, we investigate the consequences of de-prioritising the threat of the common pest. But first, let’s look at some of the species that, if ignored, can become a major problem.

Rodents

The likes of rats and mice are attracted to food retailers because of the abundance of food and shelter they provide.

Though a stray rat or mouse may only do minor damage to the premises, in large numbers, they can be devastating. Apart from the diseases they carry on their bodies, they defecate constantly. In a food preparation environment, it makes for a mix that poses a severe threat.

Rodents do more than biological harm too. As natural gnawers and burrowers, they inflict severe damage to appliances and furniture.

Birds

Rarely thought of as a ‘pest’, birds can prove to be a real nuisance for restaurants. Where the likes of pigeons congregate, they create a visual mess with their droppings and can carry parasites and other diseases.

Due to their innate tendency to peck and roost, birds can also cause structural damage, including to equipment, rooves, and electrical wiring. Damage is similarly caused by their acidic droppings, which corrode paintwork, roofing materials, signage, and outdoor furniture.

Insects

There are two categories of insects that are attracted to food preparation areas – flying and crawling insects – and both cause potential problems.

Flying insects

Flying insects range from fruit flies and moths to more dangerous species, such as mosquitoes.

Typically entering through doors, windows, air vents, and other open spaces, they damage premises in multiple ways, such as contaminating food and damaging furniture.

Restaurants failing to proactively deal with insects that can fly allow an environment to develop in which customers feel uncomfortable, and their discomfort is reflected in online reviews.

Crawling insects

In restaurants, crawling insects mostly come in the form of ants, cockroaches, and beetles.

Entering through cracks and crevices in the walls or floor or through open doors and windows, once on the premises, they too can contaminate food, spread illnesses, damage walls and furniture, and upset customers just as deftly as their winged counterparts.

The Impact of Pests on Restaurants

If not kept under control, pests can impact restaurants and food retailers in all kinds of ways.

Damage to Human Health

From a human health perspective, the diseases pests carry can be deeply unpleasant. For example, Weil’s disease is a type of bacteria that can pass to humans via the urine of infected rats.

Mostly presenting as flu-like symptoms such as headaches and muscle soreness, more severe cases can result in the development of meningitis, kidney failure, and, in rare cases, death.

Such is the seriousness of the illnesses they can transmit; UK law takes an extremely dim view of food businesses that fail to control infestations. If a customer’s health is compromised due to the presence of pests, they have grounds to sue, and the financial impact on the business of such a lawsuit can be devastating.

Even if no one is harmed by a pest, their noted presence in a restaurant can lead to downgraded food hygiene scores, fines, penalties, and even mandatory closure.

Impacted Finances

A restaurant or food retailer that becomes known for having a pest problem – or even having had one in the past – suffers a degree of reputational damage from which it is hard to recover.

And it doesn’t take long for bad news to spread in a world obsessed by social media. When news of an infestation hits the social networks it can be very damaging to the short and long-term reputation of your establishment.

The loss in revenue from stay-away customers is compounded by the very real physical damage pests can inflict on a restaurant or food retailer. Furniture, décor, and wiring must be repaired or replaced, floors may need to be ripped up, and there may even be a need to invest in the services of a professional pest controller.

Legal Problems

Pests are deemed to pose so great a threat to food safety standards that there are now no fewer than six pieces of legislation that confer legal requirements to restaurant owners and food retailers.

From The Prevention of Damage by Pest Act 1949 to The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995, UK authorities have the means to issue fines of up to £120,000 for small businesses and up to £3,000 for large ones for failing to act on a pest problem.

Should the pest problems have gotten so out of hand that a fine is inappropriate, the same authorities have the power to push for business closure and the imposition of prison sentences.

Prevention and Control

As illustrated, the consequences of ignoring pests can be severe and long-lasting.

Pest prevention is always better than pest control. Fortunately, there are cost effective steps a business can take to ensure a pest problem never occurs:

Sanitation is critical in pest prevention, and frequent cleaning and disinfection with approved chemicals and pesticides, as well as equipment and utensils, is essential. Likewise, proper disposal of rubbish and storage of consumables in sealed containers and zones should be basic practices within an integrated pest management plan.

Both tasks are aided by the implementation of effective pest control measures, such as traps and other pest control products and general pest control strategies.

Ensuring the workforce has proper training is of paramount importance, and employees must be aware of professional food handling practices. They must be directed to follow a stringent cleaning schedule and receive training in the necessary skills to store food safely and clean external areas to prevent the threat of infestation.

Control becomes an important aspect in circumstances where an infestation poses an ongoing risk. Here, monitoring and inspection must be meticulous and carried out on a regular basis by properly trained staff and external pest control partners, especially in those areas of the restaurant business most likely to attract pests.

Should a pest infestation be identified, quarantine and contain the affected area by sanitising it with pesticides or other pest control chemicals and sealing it off.

Once all pest control measures have been implemented, it may still be necessary to carry out pest extermination. Depending on the severity of the infestation, either chemical or non-chemical pest control methods – as approved by the British Pest Control Association – can be used.

We would strongly advice working with a professional pest control company to ensure adherence to the above measures and peace of mind that your premises are free from pests.

Final Thought

Infestations can have a devastating impact on restaurants when not properly managed or, even worse, ignored.

The costs are also varying in nature. There is a clear financial cost due to reputational harm, the subsequent drop in customers, and the need to replace hardware that has been damaged by pest behaviour.

Then there are the legal costs. If a few hundred pounds seems steep to manage pest control yourself or to contract a professional pest control company, the expense can soon be put into perspective. Not least at the prospect of a visit from the Food Standards Agency, local council, or the imposition of regulatory penalties that can run into the hundreds of thousands.

Of greatest importance, however, is the potential cost to human health of pest infestations. Restaurant businesses have an ethical as well as a legal obligation to ensure their products are fit for human consumption and that all measures to prevent an infestation have been taken. The knowledge that your negligence has done harm to a fellow human being will likely weigh much heavier than any fine or loss of reputation.

It is therefore essential for a business to take the necessary steps to proactively prevent pests and engage in pest management to guarantee its food safety, protect its reputation, avoid financial loss, and meet every legal requirement.

Get expert pest control support

Harvey Environmental delivers exceptional commercial pest control and washroom solutions to businesses across the UK.

Customers who choose us enjoy a customer-led approach to their pest control issues underpinned with expert advice and guidance.

We provide an immediate solution to pest control issues, coupled with a bespoke maintenance programme offering long-term protection from future risk of infestation, working with client teams to provide long-term and sustainable solutions.

Highly qualified and leading on the latest legislation and technologies, our pest control technicians are experts in their respective fields. Together, we strive hard to ensure customers always receive industry-leading advice and a five-star service.

If you feel you would benefit from our expert pest control services to rid your business premises of pests, get in touch.

Spring pests: Identifying and preventing common pests in food handling environments in spring

As the bitter grip of the winter months begins to slacken, businesses operating in food handling environments will be among those welcoming the warmer temperatures with caution. As the mercury rises, so too does the prevalence of pests.

Aside from damaging the structural integrity of buildings, spreading diseases, and destroying produce, an uncontrolled pest infestation can lead to reputational damage, financial loss, and even business closure.

The presence of pests in food-handling environments is a grave issue that must be identified and prevented to protect food hygiene, and the best time to do this is during the spring months when their numbers are still low.

Generally, we class food handling environments as those where food is prepared, stored, and served, such as restaurants, gastropubs, hotels, takeaways, cafeterias, and any other organisation that might sell food. Due to their high traffic and presence of foods and other organic items, such places are prone to pests, including:

  • Rodents
  • Cockroaches
  • Flies
  • Ants

Able as they are to contaminate food, spread diseases, damage hardware, and cause structural damage, it is essential to take preventative measures to identify and reduce the presence of these pests, maintain public health and safety, and ensure any food handling certificate is not compromised.

In this blog, we look at the pests that commonly start appearing in food-handling environments in the spring and share strategies for identifying and preventing them. We will demonstrate that, by implementing preventative measures, the presence of pests in food-handling environments can be managed effectively.

Identifying Common Pests

The spring season increases the risk of pest infestation in food handling environments due to the warmer temperatures and increased humidity that pests thrive in.

Pests such as cockroaches and flies can easily contaminate food and are well-equipped to spread various diseases, many of them deeply unpleasant. Thus, it is critical to identify signs of infestation and the type of pest responsible.

Rodents, such as rats, mice, and even squirrels, also emerge from the shadows in the spring. They, too, can spread diseases by contaminating food and surfaces and causing physical damage due to their predisposition towards gnawing behaviours. Signs of rodent infestation include droppings, bite marks, tracks on floors, and nests and burrows in and around the premises.

Although cockroaches are less common in the UK than in other countries, complacency towards them is ill-advised. Cockroaches are known to spread bacteria and other contaminants and are notoriously difficult to eliminate once they have become established. Cockroaches hide in dark, warm, and humid places, so regular checks of areas such as behind appliances, cracks and crevices, and storage areas are crucial. Signs of a cockroach infestation include egg cases, droppings, and a musty odour.

Far more common, flies become a significant problem in food handling environments in the spring if not dealt with properly. Able to spread a variety of diseases and contaminate food and surfaces, flies are attracted to warm areas, so it’s vital to ensure all windows and doors are properly screened and to check for signs of infestation in high-traffic areas regularly.

To protect food safety, prevent any contamination, and protect your customers and your business, identifying the types of pests that may be present in food handling environments in the spring should be a major priority.

By taking the necessary pest control precautions and regularly inspecting for signs of pests, it is possible to protect against infestations and keep food safe. However, prevention is always better.

Prevention of Common Pests

Crucial though it is to be able to spot the signs of a pest infestation, preventing infestation within a food handling environment in the first place should always take precedence.

Proper sanitation continues to be one of the most essential factors within food businesses. This demands food handlers undertake regular cleaning and disinfecting of the whole environment, including equipment and utensils, as well as managing rubbish and general debris and keeping food stored in sealed containers. Effective pest control methods must also be implemented to reduce the presence of pests, including insecticides, traps, and other pest control measures.

Perhaps the most important preventative pest control measure is regular workforce training. Ensuring that employees understand professional food handling practices and proper storage and disposal of food items is the first and most potent weapon in the fight against pest infestation.

Businesses can protect their employees, customers, and products and ensure a safe and healthy working environment by preventing, identifying, and managing common pests in food-handling environments in the spring.

Management of Common Pests

In circumstances where pests are an ongoing risk, monitoring and inspection become critical procedures for ensuring their effective management and ensuring proper food hygiene.

Thorough and regular inspections of all areas where food handlers operate should be conducted to identify any potential pest infestation. It’s essential to note that some pests may not be immediately visible, so hidden areas such as cracks and crevices in walls and beneath appliances should be inspected closely.

If a pest infestation is identified, take steps to quarantine and contain the affected area by sanitising and sealing it off. This includes storing food in sealed containers and keeping ingredients in airtight spaces.

With all pest management measures in place, the final step is exterminating pests as and when they appear. Depending on the severity of the infestation, either chemical or non-chemical pest control methods will be necessary and may even require a professional pest control company to intervene.

Final Thought

Preventing, identifying and managing common pests in food-handling environments as spring approaches is essential for any business responsible for food preparation.

Common pests, such as those described in this blog, can carry diseases, contaminate food, damage structures and equipment, and inflict enormous damage to the business. To identify and prevent these pests, food safety professionals should consistently execute comprehensive sanitation practices, implement pest control methods, conduct pest analysis and exercise proper building maintenance.

Regular inspections, monitoring, and documentation of any signs of pests will also help mitigate the pest risk, especially when coupled with pest-proofing materials, such as screens and seals.

If your business is relatively new, it’s advisable to keep track of the behaviour of any spring pests that encroach onto your footprint, including their nesting and feeding habits. Here, food hygiene courses can also help. The more you know about your adversary, the more effective pest control strategies you can develop.

Spring is on its way, which means the pests are too. But, by following these steps, you can effectively manage these most unwelcome of guests and keep your staff, customers, and business safe.

Get expert pest control support

Harvey Environmental delivers exceptional commercial pest control and washroom solutions to businesses across the UK.

Customers who choose us, enjoy a customer-led approach to their pest control issues underpinned with expert advice and guidance.

We provide an immediate solution to pest control issues, coupled with a bespoke maintenance programme offering long term protection from future risk of infestation, working with client teams to provide long term and sustainable solutions.

Highly qualified and leading on the latest legislation and technologies, our pest control technicians are experts in their respective fields. Together, we strive hard to ensure customers always receive a five-star service.

If you feel you would been from our expert pest control services to rid your workplace of pests, get in touch.

Remote monitors solve a long term mouse problem

Remote monitors solve a long term mouse problem

We’ve recently used a system of remotely monitored motion detection devices in a city centre restaurant that have helped to solve a long-term mouse problem.

This site had sporadic mouse activity over many years and as common in city centre environments the mice were avoiding traditional baits and traps (this is known as behavioural resistance and sometimes occurs in areas where there is an abundance of alternative food sources)

By installing the motion detection devices in numerous areas across the site we were quickly able to pinpoint the areas where the mice were most active – over 95% of the activity on site was located in three areas – all close to each other and clearly linked through wall voids and ceiling voids. These devices were installed inside tunnels that we had constructed that mice would pass through (and be picked up by the sensor) with a non toxic bait taped to the inside wall of the tunnel to encourage mice to visit these. Interestingly enough there have been plenty of activations but absolutely no “take” of bait – proving further the behavioural resistance theory. We also deployed motion detection cameras to give us even more information as to the location and behaviour of the mice – this has also helped greatly in understanding the problem.

We are now working with a specialist pest proofing company to locate and proof all rodent access routes and we truly believe that this will have an immediate and long lasting benefit to our client. The client has supplied us with detailed drawings of the site which are a huge benefit when dealing with a problem like this and they are completely on the same page with this approach.

We have been able to check on the activity levels every day from many miles away and guide our staff and advise our client in better ways than we have been able to before.

This approach has helped hugely in getting to the bottom of a long term problem and we will use it in other “problem” sites. It can also be used in sites that don’t have a recognisable mouse problem to give an extra layer of protection and instant alert if a problem flares up. The system checks itself digitally every hour and logs these checks, and we believe that this evidence can be used to show client auditors that areas/pest monitors are being constantly checked.

There is an age old motto in Pest Control – Exclusion, Restriction, Destruction

Exclusion – if at all possible, find the entry points and seal them up (this is what we are doing in this site)

Restriction – if you can’t the pests out, restrict their progress with good management practices (good hygiene and storage standards) – this will include removing breeding sites and external habitat control

Destruction – killing the pest – traditionally this has been with the use of toxic materials or physical trapping devices.

There is a reason why Destruction is the last in line – it’s because at this stage you are having to deal with a problem that us already “inside” (and once they are in it’s often very difficult to get them out!) – MUCH better to keep them out in the first place and avoid all of the hassle that a deep rooted pest problem brings.

We work with far sighted companies up and down the UK in the design and build stage (especially in the hospitality sector) to proof buildings against pest entry – this is the very best time to do this (and probably the most cost effective strategy) – we’ll expand on this, and the success of this approach in a future article.

If you have a site with a long term (maybe low level that flares up now and again) mouse problem or you look after a site that is audited on a regular basis we’d be delighted to deploy this technology to help you.