• Pests are able to spread germs by simply touching food/food contact surfaces.
  • A Pest outbreak could be devastating not just to consumer health but a business reputation and bottom line.
  • The key to proactively protecting food establishments is to train employees on a formal pest management program.

Protect Your Bottom Line

Sanitation is a top priority in the retail food service business. While general cleaning procedures are essential for maintaining proper food safety and health, pest control is another area of major concern.

Insects and rodents are known disease spreaders. These pests are able to spread pathogens simply by touching a food source or food contact surface. Many insects are known carriers of typhoid, cholera, and dysentery. An outbreak of any one of these could be devastating not just to consumers health but to a business’s reputation and bottom line.

Pests are usually looking for three essential elements: food, water, and shelter. Retail food service establishments are a natural haven for pests.

Training is Your Best Defense

Employees are the frontline of defense for pest control in both food preparation and food service areas.

Discovering pest issues is exceedingly difficult without direct staff involvement. They are on the ground level closest to areas where pests are most commonly found.

Training employees in a formal pest management program is the key to proactively protecting food service establishments from unhealthy pests. A pest management program is an ongoing cycle of three critical activities:

  1. Assessing the situation in a facility.
  2. Implementing specific, science driven solutions based on findings.
  3. Monitoring pest activity to make sure the techniques are effective.

If employees are trained to recognize hot spots and highrisk areas, they can contribute and likely to be more vigilant in calling out potential problems.

Assign different areas to monitor unique to each employee’s position. Establish a pest sighting protocol to encourage employees to document a sighting immediately. This would include the type of pest, the number present at the time, and where exactly the pest was spotted.

There are usually telltale signs for the most common pests:

  • Flies- they can reproduce quickly. So, any larvae spotted around drains and garbage bins need to be removed immediately.
  • Roaches- they may be found behind or under kitchen equipment. They’re associated with unpleasant odors along with coffee ground sized droppings.
  • Rodents- they leave droppings, tiny pellets, constantly. Dark rub marks around baseboards, especially next to corners, are a good indicator also of potential problems.
  • Termites- they are attracted to moist areas and wood structures. Cracked or bubbling paint, mud tubes on exterior walls and discarded wings from swarmer’s are evidence of a larger issue.

Employees should be informed that during their standard cleaning sessions they pay special attention to grime and food particles building up behind and beneath heavy equipment.

Preventing pests from entering the food service premises is another important consideration. Several areas of concern include:

  1. Trash– it should be removed daily and garbage bin tops should fit tightly to reduce odors that draw pests in. Dumpsters should reside at least 40 feet from the building exterior.
  2. Storage Areas- these should be kept neat and tidy. Eliminate clutter. Clean containers before putting new product inside. Keep containers off the floor and use tightly sealed packages
  3. Windows/Doors– Keep screens on windows and keep doors closed.
  4. Clean up spills immediately especially sugary drink spills.

Lastly, keeping the property outdoors neat and tidy can dramatically reduce pest pressure faced indoors. Trim back vegetation from contacting the building walls. Plant shrubs at least one foot away from exterior walls and keep them thinned out. A barrier of rock around the perimeter of the building is another deterrent.

Standing water spots are a natural nourishment to all pests. Therefore proper runoff, taking water away from the building, is essential.

Although there are a host of different approaches to preventing pest intrusions, the most important point is to regularly clean and sanitize all areas inside and outside the food service establishment. If pests do not have safe shelter, a steady food source, and water, they can’t survive.


We want to know…Do you have a formal pest management training program?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

Dr. Gary Russotti MD, MS
Idea Boxx- Director of Medical/Biochemical R&D and Regulatory Compliance


  1. Insect Collage Photo: http://www.countryviewgardenhomes.com/blog/2017/07/26/pest-control-tips/
  2. Insect Photo Credit: Universal Pest Control, http://universalpestcontrol.net/commertial.php