Restaurant Pest Control Tips
Whether you're dealing with flying insects, crawling insects, or rodents, a single pest that is seen, heard, or smelled within your restaurant can be a no-turning-back type of dealbreaker for many customers. A pest invasion violates the stringent sanitation requirements needed to keep food safe and puts your establishment at risk for the introduction of harmful diseases and bacteria. This could lead to customers getting sick and create problems that extend well beyond the perception of your brand. However for more general pest control, there are also a handful of key preventative measures and cleaning trends you can adopt to proactively stop pest problems from ever getting started!
Pest prevention anywhere can be quite the undertaking, but when dealing with all of the food inside (and outside) your restaurant, that challenge is magnified even further. Every establishment is different and so the preventative measures will be too, but there are a few "hot spots" in and around any restaurant that demand particular attention.
Exterior Considerations for Pest Control
When dealing with outdoor pests it's important to address a few key problem areas. Cleaning up these areas and making a few changes can not only eliminate current pests in your outdoor dining area but also can prevent new pests from appearing.
1. Lighting: A lot of insects are drawn to the warmth given off by lighting and are so attracted to ultraviolet light that it is used to lure insects into glue traps and bug zappers as a means of pest control. These are great tools for luring flying pests away from your building or taking care of any that may sneak inside, but this also illustrates why you want to be judicious with your restaurant lighting. Affix a minimum amount of lighting directly to your establishment and instead, install fixtures away from the building while directing light toward doorways.
2. Dumpsters: Cleanliness is important in all facets of food service, but dumpsters are of particular concern because they're sure to attract pests and become a public eyesore if not properly maintained. Be sure you invest in a dumpster that's appropriately sized for your needs to help prevent overflow, and regularly clean the area with a hose in a manner that allows water to flow into a drain (unless using a dumpster deodorizer, which should not be discharged into the environment). Dumpsters should be located away from your main building and equipped with lids that shut tightly.
3. Entrances & Exits: Doors and windows should be kept closed, when possible, but certain spaces like receiving areas, drive-through windows, and primary entrances are going to be opened frequently and sometimes for extended periods out of necessity. In these situations, consider investing in an air curtain to deter flying insects. Many doors would also benefit from a door sweep, which seals gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor/threshold for added protection against not only moisture and drafts but also insects and rodents. Be on the lookout for unintended entrances as well; a great pest control technique is to regularly inspect your facility's exterior and seal any cracks and crevices that pests may use to sneak inside.
Interior Considerations for Pest Control
When it comes to deterring pests on the inside of your restaurant, regular cleaning and sanitizing, as well as prompt attention to unexpected messes, are universally important. A few particularly noteworthy areas are listed below.
1. Dining & Food Prep Areas: Seats and tables should be wiped down and the area beneath/around the table should be swept any time a party leaf. In your food prep area, you have to be on the lookout for loose crumbs, drips, and splashes on and around tables, equipment, and even waitress stations.
2. Storage Area: Keep dry food products in tightly-sealed food storage containers since loosely closed bags and boxes are an open invitation for pests. Food must be stored at least 6" off the ground and 12" away from walls so that you can easily clean and inspect the area. Stock should be rotated using the First In First Out method, with special attention paid to slow-moving products, which are more likely to contain pests.
3. Trash Cans: A liner must be used in all trash cans inside your restaurant, and all trash cans should have lids—whether that means investing in a step on can, a swing top lid, or a tight-fitting lid for your standard round commercial trash can. Another important and too often overlooked requirement of trash can maintenance is keeping the bin itself clean of any refuse that may slip through punctures in the liner.
4. Floor Drains: Floor drains in a janitor's closet or warewashing area can be an unfortunate breeding ground for pests—flies, in particular. Be sure to regularly check beneath the drain grate for loose debris and keep the drain itself clean with an enzyme-based cleaner like Noble Chemical EDM+.
Most Common Pests in Restaurants
In addition to knowing which areas prove troublesome for restaurant pest control, it's also important to know what pests present problems for restaurants. The pests you're likely to encounter vary by geography, type of foodservice operation, structural deficiencies in your building, and many other factors, but there are four pests that are far more common in restaurants than others.
1. Rodents: Mice and rats can trigger intense feelings of fear and disgust for many patrons, and with good reason. They can spread diseases like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli among many others, and let's be honest—their beady little eyes are what nightmares are made of. They contaminate restaurants with feces and urine and use their teeth to chew through food packaging as well as electrical wiring and plumbing, so check out our selection of rodent control products to keep these pests at bay.
2. Cockroaches: Cockroaches--with their long antennae, hardened body, and hairy legs--will also trigger a very visceral reaction in a lot of customers. They spread many pathogens, like those that cause food poisoning, and contaminate restaurants with feces, regurgitated food, and shed exoskeletons. Cockroaches are particularly aggravating for restaurateurs because of their resiliency—you can cut them off from food and water, but many can live weeks without (not to mention they can live weeks without their head). Our variety of crawling insect control products provides you with multiple ways to combat cockroach infestations.
3. Flies: Flies are a flitting nuisance that may not make patrons' stomachs churn like some other pests, but they can do as much if not more damage to the safety and cleanliness of your establishment. They can carry hundreds of diseases and are particularly drawn to liquid food, but they contaminate solid food and any other surface they land on by vomiting, sucking the vomit back into their system and, if needed, releasing fecal matter so they're not too heavy to fly away. When you consider how mobile flies are and how many surfaces they can contaminate in such a short period, it's easy to see why they are such a significant concern in restaurants and why flying insect control products are so important.
4. Stored Product Pests:These pests include weevils, moths, beetles, mites, and other small insects that enter your restaurant hidden within flour, grain, nuts, and other packaged products or find refuge and sustenance in those products post-arrival. They breed, eat, and excrete within these products, creating bacteria that can not only alter flavor, but also cause allergic reactions or irritate your patrons' digestive tract. Because stored product pests aren't visibly prominent, great vigilance is required in closely examining incoming products as well as regularly rotating and inspecting existing stock for webbing, larvae, visible adult pests, or other signs of an infestation.