Pest control is vital to a healthy commercial kitchen. Infestations ruin inventory and care away customers. A 2006 poll of foodservice consumers found that more than 60 percent of frequent restaurant diners would tell five or more acquaintances about a pest sighting at a restaurant. Nearly three out of ten respondents said a cockroach sighting would cause them to leave an establishment and never go back. (Source)
The key to keeping your kitchen and restaurant free of reputation damaging pests, is to know the following facts:
- Which pests are threatening your area
- Where to clean
- How to clean
The Most Common Restaurant Pests
Beetles, Weevils and Moths
These hitchhiking buggers are the type of pests that enter into your restaurant in packaged food products. Beetles, weevils and moths are all examples of stored-product pests. These types of bugs are capable of destroying inventory by eating packaged products and leaving contaminating bacteria behind.
Customers and chefs alike cringe at the sight of large, black creepy-crawlers scuttling across the floor or table. And the resiliency of cockroaches can prove infuriating. These pests are equipped to survive for two months without food and ten days without water. They can arrive in packaging or they can enter your kitchen through very tiny cracks in the doorway or foundation. Tackling a cockroach infestation will take vigilance and professional help and their presence imposes the threat of bacteria. This can cause food poisoning, diarrhea, asthma attacks and gastroenteritis.
Adult flies can enter your restaurant through open windows and doors. Fly larvae can reside in food shipments hatch in your restaurant. A quick search with the word “flies” through the Center for Disease Control’s website, turns up hundreds of articles on known diseases that are carried and transmitted through flies. These winged pests transfer bacteria and disease and will contaminate food and surfaces if given the opportunity.
A mouse or rat sighting in your restaurant will definitely conjure a verbal reaction from the masses. Thoughts of plague and other horrific notions of disease can rouse the wrong ideas about your business, creating a public relations nightmare. Scurrying rodents are capable of squeezing through tiny holes and cracks. They are also capable of carrying transmittable human diseases and can introduce harmful bacteria to your kitchen.
Common Pest Areas
Counter pest problems by paying special attention to the areas in your restaurant where bugs and rodents are likely to hang out. Knowing the preferred areas for pests will keep your cleaning routine efficient and effective.
This includes everything from trash cans to recycling bins and garbage disposals. Any area where food products or food product residue remains out in the open, is an area that beckons undesirable guests.
Food Preparation and Dining Areas
Crumbs, spilled sauces or any food product that slips through the cutting board cracks, rolls under prep areas or sits under dining tables, are all buffet items for pests to feast on. This includes waitress stations and dishwashing stations as well.
Pests love dark spaces, especially dark spaces with boxes and bags of food. Pantries with open boxes or bags are a favorite hot spot for pests like cockroaches or rodents. It is also important to note that pests in packaged products can quickly consume and contaminate inventory if left unchecked in storage areas.
Any collection of debris around your building’s exterior can call to scavenging pests looking for a new place to hang out and grab a meal. These areas include outdoor dining areas, dumpster locations and parking lots.
Cleaning as Defense
A well-run restaurant has a daily cleaning schedule for both front of the house and back of the house employees. However, without special attention in the pest hot spots, bacterial invaders will find their way into even the cleanest establishments.
Store Food Products Safely
Food storage must be monitored closely. Place dry goods in containers and seal them tightly. Keep all food products at least six-inches off the ground and up on shelving units. When placing items on shelves, make sure to position stored items away from the wall. Last, rotate items utilizing the FIFO- first in, first out, method.
Clean Dining Areas, Thoroughly
Create a routine for servers or bussers to wipe the backs of booth cushions after guests have left the table. Instruct them to get right down into the cushion cracks and to wipe out any fallen debris. Sweep out the areas under chairs and tables after each party leaves. Check every table and all chairs before closing for the night and assure that no debris is left behind.
Sanitize Trash Receptacles
Use can liners in all trash receptacles inside your restaurant. Deny build-up the opportunity to collect from spills and crumbs left behind in waste areas. Keep trash cans tightly sealed with lids to deter bugs from congregating in the kitchen.
Keep Dumpsters Away from Buildings
Keep dumpsters in an area away from your building and do not let dumpsters share a wall with your building. Work with your sanitation company to keep all dumpsters clean and with operable lids that stay closed without gaps.
Use Disinfectant Cleaners
Include disinfectant cleaners with your nightly kitchen clean-up routine. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen and never leave puddles of any size behind.
Get Under Drain Covers
Remove drain covers from the floor and sweep out any debris that may have fallen under the grates. Scrape out any build-up that may have formed.
Examine the Exterior of Your Building
Sweep outdoor dining areas and wipe off tables. Hose off the pavement on sidewalks or outdoor bar areas. Use a large squeegee or mop and disperse any standing water to eliminate breeding areas for insects.
Adopt routine cleaning policies to keep invading pests out of your restaurant. Communicate with your staff on the importance of keeping up with the cleaning procedures and instruct employees to take extra care in the areas of your building that are likely to house unwanted visitors.
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- Types of Restaurant Food Safety Certification
- Proper Fruit and Produce Washing
- Safe Ice Handling
- Filtered Water Makes The Best Ice
- When to Accept or Reject Fresh Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- How Commercial Kitchen Operators Can Obtain a Food Handler's Permit
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