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:
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.
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.
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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.