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Pests are a nightmare for any business involved in handling food. As well as being a risk for spreading disease and damaging your property, they can cause reputational damage to a business. This article will explain the best ways of managing pests and how to control pests in the food industry.

Looking after public health should always be a priority for the food industry to protect the wider community and improve customer experience.

In extreme cases of poor pest control, you may even find yourself subject to prosecution and closure.

Therefore, it is a vital part of any food-related business to ensure they follow the correct procedures to control pests and prevent infestations.

Pest Control Management in the Food Industry

Whether you are the owner of a small takeaway, a restaurant, a large hotel or a food processing unit, pest control is crucial to keeping your staff, customers and community safe. Rather than relying on pest removal, it is better to focus on management.

Pest control involves three basic strategies that apply to any size food business.

  1. You need to try and stop pests from being introduced to your site.
  2. It would be best if you altered conditions to discourage their presence.
  3. You must lessen their ability to survive should they enter your premises.

Pest control is not often discussed in the UK, even though it is an essential part of keeping the food industry safe. Large businesses will invariably be operating a pest control system, yet this is rarely advertised publicly as a positive.

This lack of open communication often leads to smaller businesses neglecting the area of pest control until it is too late, despite prevention being far more straightforward than a cure.

Operating an effective pest control system and removing the stigma is a great way to ensure that the UK’s food industry is pest free.

Pest Control and UK Law

Food businesses must ensure that food is safe and not harmful to health or unfit for human consumption. Pest control is an essential aspect of this obligation.

The regulatory framework in the UK lays down food hygiene requirements for the food sector. The law governs food premise layouts along with required hygiene practices to avoid contamination and effective pest control.

The main guidelines that must be followed are:

It is essential to understand that business owners themselves have responsibility for ensuring that correct practices regarding pest control are followed. Employing a pest control contractor is the best way to show compliance, but it is not enough on its own to show that a business has observed due diligence.

In addition to the general guidelines that involve pest control, some additional standards must be met in the food manufacturing sector.

These standards are based on risk assessment, emphasising risks to public health and the environment from inadequate pest control.

Many businesses have a poor understanding of the law and their responsibilities regarding pest control. Proprietors need to acquire pest control contractors that cover all elements of the guidelines.

Cutting corners on pest control can prove to be damaging. A fully comprehensive service will be the best way to ensure that all sections of the guidelines are covered.

Pest Control Measures for the Food Industry

How To Control Pests In The Food Industry

Product Storage

It is vital to inspect all produce delivered to your premises to look for evidence of any pest infestation. Your stock must then be stored in a way that means it can be regularly inspected.

A common mistake is to store produce in corners or against walls which allow infestation that is hard to detect.

Pest Prevention

The most crucial part of pest prevention is to have a system that protects your premises from pests. Stopping them from entering is the best way of controlling them.

There are some simple strategies, including reducing door gaps to less than 5mm to stop rats and mice from getting in. You can also add fly screens on windows and doors to prevent flies and a fly killer inside that will contain any that do get in.

For food manufacturers, it may be preferable to use a glue board system for fly killing. Whatever method you use, you should ensure fly killers are serviced in Spring before the fly-filled summer months.

You can use a HACCP (Hazard Control and Critical Control Point) process as a valuable way of reducing your risks. For example, if you can evaluate the type of fly infestation and find the source, you may be able to eliminate the root of the problem.

Waste Disposal

Effective food disposal systems are essential to avoid attracting pests. Ensuring that staff follow an agreed policy is necessary.

Disposal of food in suitable, secure storage and regular collections are excellent ways to reduce the attraction for pests such as rats, mice, pigeons, seagulls, and insects.

There are significant rat infestations in many parts of the UK due to resistance to rodenticides and poor control. There is also a requirement to reduce the use of some rodenticides to reduce harm to the environment.

Effective waste disposal will benefit the environment as it will discourage unwanted pest visitors that may break through your controls and infest your premises, requiring more pesticides.

Community Control

The problem with a pest infestation is that they could migrate between premises once they are in an area. Therefore, all the food premises within the community need adequate pest protection and prevention.

Environmental health teams have the power to enter and inspect premises to protect the wider community.

Hiring a Pest Control Contractor

When choosing a pest control contractor, it is important to consider their ability to carry out the work professionally to show you have complied with your due diligence responsibilities.

Look out for companies that:

  • Use certified specialists
  • Have up to date knowledge about UK legislation
  • Undertake regular training
  • Focus on safety
  • Commit to caring for the environment and preventing damage
  • Abide by strict industry codes of best practice