Running a kitchen can be a demanding job without having to worry about pests jeopardising the health and well-being of customers, not to mention creating unsanitary working conditions for employees. Besides the risk to public health, pests also pose a serious threat to your business. In South Africa, there is a heavy emphasis on pest management as part of the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in food businesses – a prerequisite program for HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) procedures.
According to CIEH.org, “The section which deals with pest management will usually require zero infestation and conformity with criteria covering type of pest management programme; permitted materials and techniques and record keeping.”
Here, we’ll discuss the types of pests most likely to invade hotel and commercial kitchens and how to stop them from invading yours.
Rats and mice are attracted to food supplies – making commercial or hotel kitchens prime feeding and nesting grounds. These pests pose a double threat because not only can they cause structural damage to buildings and food stores, but they can also spread disease by contaminating the food with urine, droppings and other harmful bacteria.
How they access kitchens: Most rats and mice can fit through extraordinarily small holes and tight spaces (even as small as 6-7mm in diameter), which means access points are not hard for them to find. Some rodents may even hitchhike on delivery vans and seek shelter where there is a food supply close by.
How to control them: The best way to prevent rodents from infesting your kitchen is to either block their efforts to enter the building, or remove anything that might attract them to your facility, such as sources of food, water and shelter. As part of an integrated pest management program, traps and poisons can also be used in line with acceptable practices and legislation. It’s important to note that there are certain requirements when it comes to the use of rodenticides, which prescribe how they should be stored and prohibit their use near any food handling areas.
Like rodents, cockroaches go where there is an abundance of food, water and shelter. This, combined with warmer temperatures, makes for alarming breeding rates. The most popular of roaches in South Africa, the German cockroach, are among the fastest reproducing roaches – allowing them to infest kitchens very quickly. And, because of their nocturnal habits, it can be difficult to know if they’re around until you have a large infestation on your hands.
How they access kitchens: Cockroaches are often introduced into professional kitchens through paper products and cardboard boxes which retain their scent and provide ideal nesting places. They can also gain entry through cracks, crevices and holes from adjoining buildings or from the outside.
How to control them: good sanitation will prevent the entry and movement of cockroaches into your kitchen, as well as sealing any point of access and eliminating any sources of harbourage.
The preferred environment for flies to thrive is hot and humid conditions, which are typical of any busy kitchen. And when it comes to food sources, commercial kitchens provide a buffet of options for any type of fly to feed on, from the sugary fermenting liquids that attract fruit flies, to garbage and food waste preferred by house flies and other species.
How they access kitchens: The fly is a highly mobile pest, able to fly from filth to food carrying with it a wide range of disease-causing organisms on its body (CIEH.org). They come in through air vents, sewer or drain pipes, and gaps in windows and doors in search of food and water.
How to control them: Good sanitation and hygiene practices along with sealing off entry points are you best line of defense. When flies are present, you need to get rid of the breeding site where the eggs and larvae are located first to prevent further infestation.
Commercial kitchens are especially vulnerable to ants because of the general ease of entry and availability of food and water sources. Although ants are considered more of a nuisance pest, they still have an impact on food safety. Ants can find their way into stored food products, which can become contaminated with ant bodies.
How they access kitchens: Ant workers come inside through holes, cracks and gaps in the exterior of the building and nest in wall voids, bath traps and insulation.
How to control them: Eliminate the food source/s responsible for the infestation, keep food preparation and food storage areas clean and treat cracks and crevices with approved insecticides.
- Stored Product Insects
An infestation of Stored Product Insects (SPIs) is initially hard to detect as they spend the majority of time hiding and breeding in their food type of preference. SPIs include beetles, weevils, moths and mites that infest mostly dried food:
- Beans, peas and similar foods
- Coffee, tea and powdered milk
- Dried fruit and vegetables
- Flour and milled cereal products
- Grain (wheat, rice, corn and other cereals)
- Macaroni and spaghetti
- Nuts and confectionery
- Preserved meats and other animal materials
How they access kitchens: Food can become infested with stored product insects at any point in the supply chain. However, stored food is most likely to become infested in storage or when kept on shelves for long periods.
How to control them: Inspect all deliveries of food products and packaging to make sure they are unbroken, keep storage areas tidy and use stock rotation. Any food that seems to be infested should be thrown out immediately.
Looking for a pest management plan that works for you? Contact The Specialists for an integrated pest management plan that keeps pests out of your kitchen and away from your food for good.