Preventing pests in food facilities is critical to ensuring the safety and quality of food products. Pests can easily contaminate food with bacteria and other pathogens, leading to foodborne illnesses and other health hazards.
In addition to posing a health risk, pests can also cause significant damage to food packaging, electrical wiring, and other materials in food facilities, leading to costly repairs and potential interruptions in operations.
Furthermore, pest infestations can also damage a food facility’s reputation and lead to loss of business. Customers expect food to be prepared and stored in a safe and sanitary environment, and the presence of pests can indicate otherwise.
Pest control in a food handling environment is not an option but a legal requirement. The proper pest control measurements will reduce and even eliminate the risk of food contamination and damage caused by pests.
The 7 Most Common Pests You Can Find in Food Handling Environments
You might not find all of these pests in the same facility at the same time, but all food facilities do encounter them at some point.
Did you know flies are one of the most dangerous pests you can find in a food-handling environment? The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the common housefly can transmit at least 65 diseases.
Flies are stubborn pests that can undermine your business’s image. They are active during the day, very persistent, easily visible and do not try to hide. They are literally in your customer’s face. It is also challenging to get rid of these annoying pests once they find a way to enter a building.
Rodents (Rats and Mice)
Second to flies, rodents also make the top of this list because they are among the most dangerous pests you can find in a food-handling environment. Rodents transport food-borne pathogens through saliva, urine and droppings. Rodents also carry parasites like fleas and ticks.
Rodents are nocturnal (more active at night), shy and likes to hide. It is more difficult to spot them.
As with most pests, cockroaches also like the same food humans consume. Paper materials, paste, glue, wallpaper and drapes are also part of their diet. Cockroaches are tough little critters, and it is claimed they can withstand exposure to extreme radiation levels.
Cockroaches often transport microorganisms on their bodies, as well as viruses and pathogens, which can cause various health hazards.
As with rodents, cockroaches are also nocturnal and like to hide. Spotting them is more complicated.
Other Crawling and Flying Insects
Be on the lookout for other flying and crawling insects. The types of food you process and store and the location of the facility, play a role in what type of other insects you might encounter in the workplace.
For example, you might find fruit flies and gnats in a fruit processing and handling environment, but not so much in an abattoir. Although some species of gnats are bloodsuckers.
Identify other insects you notice and add them to your Pest Control checklist.
Birds are not pests in the normal sense, but they become pests when they enter the food processing and handling area. The most common birds you might find inside buildings, especially warehouses, are;
- and sparrows.
In most cases, birds enter the facility by accident, but exposed beams near roofs are ideal for nesting. Birds are larger than your regular pests and easily visible. It is also much easier to control them. They usually enter through open windows and doors. Keeping these closed should solve the problem.
Birds like to do their business during flight and exposed food, food preparation surfaces and equipment could be in the way. Birds carry parasites, and the droppings and feathers may contain harmful germs and parasites.
You would not usually find bats inside your processing area, but they are famous for living and breeding in roofs (between the roof and ceiling). From time to time, one might lose its way and end up in your processing area.
Bats are not common pests, but they (including their droppings) do carry a variety of harmful germs and parasites.
Domestic animals are not pests until they enter the food processing area. Chances are very slim you will find domestic animals roaming around your food processing area, but it does happen.
For example, stray dogs and cats are always on the hunt for food and water. Given a chance, they will enter a food processing area.
Pests carry germs and parasites. Keep them out of your food processing, handling and storage areas.
ASC Consultants can help you to implement the correct or improve your current Pest Control procedures.
Our Pest Control services include:
- Pest Control Checklists
- Pest presence identification
- Advice and recommendations (including the best reputable pest control companies to use)
- Staff training
You are welcome to contact us for assistance and advice.
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Document Templates Toolkits
Do you want to save time compiling your company’s Food Safety Management System’s documents?
Have a look at our document templates toolkits for:
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- ISO 22000
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