Spring Is In the Air...
Pests Don’t Have to Be
By Patricia Nicholson
Unfortunately, longer days and warmer temperatures aren’t the only signs of spring. The season also brings its share of pests, which can represent a major health hazard, can damage your restaurant’s reputation and can be grounds for closure by a health inspector. Fortunately for foodservice operators, there are modern solutions to this timeless annoyance.
If you’re wondering how these uninvited guests get into restaurants, it’s not unusual for them to walk right in the door, or perhaps a window, or even a crack in the wall. Mice and other pests can slip in under a door if there’s
a gap between the door and the floor, says Christine
Lush, senior account executive at Ecolab Pest Elimination Division, a company that provides pest elimination services for the Canadian hospitality industry. Be sure to seal up door sweeps with weather-stripping, and seal up cracks and crevices with expanding foam or concrete. These security measures are part of a comprehensive pest elimination program, Lush says.
Pests may also hitch a ride into your kitchen. Because cockroaches like to hide in tight spots, that’s often
where they leave their eggs. Those eggs can arrive at your restaurant on anything from beer cases to second-hand equipment. They can also arrive on people: employees who have insects in their homes can carry eggs to the restaurant on clothes or personal effects, Lush says. It’s a good idea to have staff members leave their personal belongings in a locker room before entering the kitchen. Addressing sanitation and structural issues can help ward off infestation, but Lush says a regular pest control program is the best way to keep your restaurant free from bugs, rodents and other pests.
Regular pest control services can ensure that the arrival of a pest never becomes a problem: outdoor and indoor rodent bait stations and traps—including models camouflaged to look like rocks or heating vents to avoid alarming customers—keep mice and rats at bay;a three-step elimination program followed by regular surveillance and ongoing protection provide defence against cockroaches.
Although mice and cockroaches are some of the most common pests that plague the hospitality industry, there are many other unwelcome guests that can cause trouble. Flying insects such as fruit flies and houseflies can be a major problem, as can crawling insects such as ants, Lush says. Rats, bedbugs and even squirrels can be a nuisance, and birds can be a serious problem for restaurants with patios.
A thorough pest program can protect against all of these invaders, using technologies such as bug lights and landing deterrents for birds. The key to successful prevention of pest problems is to have a plan and a program before you have a pest. Inspection, communication and monthly maintenance are vital parts of such a service.
This approach to pest control is proactive, not reactive. With a good pest control program, everything is already in place, and being regularly monitored.“In case something does come in, there’s something there to kill it before an infestation can happen,” Lush says.
By taking control of pest control, operators can rid themselves of one more worry.
Most restaurateurs put a lot of effort into providing an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for their customers. But they may inadvertently be providing an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for pests. Insects and rodents come into your restaurant looking for the same basic things that your customers come in for: food, water, and the shelter of a warm, comfortable place. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency offers the following advice on making places less hospitable to mice, cockroaches and other pests:
Keep floors and counters clean, and dispose of garbage properly and frequently.
Thoroughly weather-strip doors and windows to keep out bugs and rodents. To block out rats and mice, patch any cracks in your building’s foundations, and ensure exhaust vents are covered with fine wire mesh. Don’t provide cozy spaces for rodents by allowing grass or
weeds to grow long around the back of the building,
or by letting unused items clutter up corners.
To help keep cockroaches from entering or taking shelter, pay attention to smaller spaces both inside and out: cracks, crevices and any wall cavities should be sealed or caulked. Cracks can also provide an entryway for ants. Caulking along baseboards can help keep them out.
Cockroaches prefer a damp, dark environment. You can create a less hospitable atmosphere for them by controlling humidity, increasing air circulation and providing good lighting.