If you run a food business, pests can make your customers ill with food poisoning, severely damage your reputation, and result in significant financial losses.
Businesses such as restaurants, cafes and fast-food outlets face a constant threat from an assortment of common pests. These pests target food businesses because they provide an ideal place for them to live, feed and reproduce.
Effective pest control is essential to protect business and customers alike by avoiding or eliminating issues such as:
- Pests penetrating packaging and contaminating the food it contains with bacteria.
- Spreading diseases through their feet, fur, urine and droppings.
Common pests in the food business
The most common pests faced by food businesses are:
Mites, beetles, weevils, pantry moths, and cockroaches burrow into stored ingredients such as rice, flour and seed. They can infest large quantities of stored produce, resulting in infected food.
Rats and mice carry viruses and bacteria that can kill. They can also damage property by chewing through hard surfaces and electrical wiring.
Droppings and nesting materials from birds such as pigeons, sparrows and starlings can contaminate food, tableware and equipment.
Signs of a food pest problem
You need to be constantly alert to the danger of food pest infestation. Common signs include:
- Droppings in cupboards or under appliances.
- Urine stains.
- Cockroach egg cases (oothecas).
- Gnawed packaging.
- Grease marks along walls.
- Animal footprints.
- Musty smell (if there’s substantial infestation).
Costly consequences of food pest infestation
Food pests can cost your business dearly on three fronts:
Pest infestation can result in temporary closure of a food business.
You’re required by law to ensure that effective measures are in place to control pests. If pests are discovered on your premises as a result of a complaint or during an inspection, you could be closed down under a hygiene emergency prohibition notice.
Pest infestation can lead to hefty financial penalties. It’s not uncommon for food businesses to be fined many thousands of pounds for contravening food hygiene legislation.
Even big names fall foul of the law. In 2017, fines for mice infestation cost health and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett £500,000 and the Asda supermarket chain £300,000.
You may experience ongoing loss of trade through damage to your reputation.
News spreads fast on social media, and awareness of a pest problem on your premises can quickly sabotage your standing in the local community. And once reputational damage has been done, it’s difficult to repair.
It takes only a single sighting of a pest to have customers scurrying out of your door and telling friends and family to give you a wide berth.
Health consequences of food pest infestation
Food pests can cause multiple nasty illnesses among your customers, including:
- E. coli.
- Weil’s disease.
What to do if you have a food pest problem
If you suspect pests have infiltrated your premises, you need to close the business and call in pest control specialists to remove the pests from food storage, preparation and service areas.
Meanwhile, report the problem to your local council and dispose of any food that may have been contaminated.
Food business pest management has to be left to professionals, who can schedule essential, regular pest control monitoring and maintenance and carry out targeted interventions.
Pest control products available commercially aren’t adequate for a food business environment and can do more harm than good. Pest management experts have far more effective solutions and know how to use them safely.
Professional food pest control for businesses
Pest infestation of a food business costs far more than measures to prevent it or failing to deal with a pest problem efficiently.
Prevention is a crucial part of food business pest control, ideally a multi-layer system of defence to detect pest activity and respond before a serious problem develops.
Effective pest management programmes will help to keep pests out of your building in the first place and minimise conditions that encourage pests or facilitate their survival.
If pests do infect your premises, it’s vital to stamp out the problem fast to prevent health issues among customers and financial damage to your business.
Professional commercial pest control services provide these solutions with measures that include:
- Surveying and dealing with potential risks, including entry points.
- Putting in place a pest control plan tailored to the business’s unique situation and needs.
- Quickly eliminating outbreaks of pest infestation.
Business pest control services for Hampshire and Dorset
If you run a food business in Hampshire or Dorset, Ringwood-based Pests, Birds and Bugs provides commercial pest control services that can put your mind at rest by pest-proofing your business and immediately dealing with any existing problem.
Call us on 07388 892414 or get in touch online for a free quote.