Eating out is, for most of us, one of the most pleasant ways of spending time with friends and family while enjoying delicious freshly-cooked meals in a fancy décor. But such pleasant occasion can rapidly turn into a terrifying experience if you happen to stumble upon a fly in your soup or bite down on a cockroach baked into the crust of your pizza.
Flies, rats, cockroaches, weevils, ants, and other invaders are an absolute nightmare for restaurant and food service establishments. Heavy infestations can not only damage a brand’s image and cause significant financial losses, but also pose serious health risks to customers’ health and wellbeing.
Here we look at four of the most notorious pests found in restaurants and the damage they can cause when they’re no longer under control.
Cockroaches may be a staple of some countries’ cuisine, including China, Thailand, Mexico, and Japan, but the thought of putting the slimy bugs in one’s mouth makes most people cringe in disgust. And it’s not only our instincts that make us find the unpredictable, erratic-moving, and apparently fearless critters repulsive; they are, indeed, a health risk to humans.
Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers that will literally feed on anything organic, from dead plants and meat to glue and even straps of human hair. But it’s the way they do it that turns them from mere unpleasant appearances into food contaminators and vectors of disease. Aside from repeatedly regurgitating partially digested food while feeding, discharging their germ-laden saliva and foul-smelling secretions all over the place, they also defecate continuously near their meal. For feast buddies, that’s actually an added bonus, since one’s poop is another’s treat, but for humans, eating their leftovers can cause an array of diseases, from diarrhea and gastroenteritis to asthma and numerous allergies.
Signs of Infestation: droppings (similar to coffee grounds), foul odors, physical sightings.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you keep your restaurant spotless and your kitchen spick-and-span. As long as there’s food, water, and shelter readily available – and entry points that lead to them – the chances of having a pack of rats wreaking havoc in your stockroom is pretty high. The thing about rats isn’t just that they’re creepy and gross or that their destructive feeding habits cost restaurants and kitchens across the country millions of dollars every year. The thing that’s most frightening about the squirming vermin is the alarming number of viruses and disease-causing bacteria they carry and transmit to humans – a figure far greater than what scientists previously thought.
Signs of Infestation: droppings, sounds, nests, smudge marks, burrow and gnawing
Pantry pests are often one of the biggest problems in commercial establishments that produce and/or use flours, cereals, grains, baking mixes, pasta, nuts, dried fruit, beans, potato chips, spices, and dried tobacco. The usual suspects that greedily attack these products include the Indian meal moth, the flour beetle, the bean weevil, the cigarette and drugstore beetle, and the sawtoothed grain beetle. They are usually linked to dirty kitchens, but they can infiltrate even the cleanest of restaurants by hitching a ride via packaged food.
As in the case of cockroaches, the problem with pantry pests is not the rather gruesome sight of encountering – and possibly ingesting – a dead insect with your morning cereal. What makes these tiny critters undesirable and even downright dangerous is the fact that they contaminate stored food with their fluids, feces, and webbing, and inoculate it with microbes that produce highly carcinogenic compounds.
Signs of Infestation: insect sightings, webbing, holes in packaging.
Originally limited to certain regions of southern Asia, flies are now encountered on all continents, in all climates, and in a myriad of environments. Seeing as they are literally everywhere where humans live, flies are usually considered as nothing more than just a nuisance. That is, until one lands on your food, vomits its recent meals on it, disposes fecal matter, and potentially spreads about 100 of some of the most dangerous bacteria and viruses, including those that cause typhoid, cholera, dysentery, poliomyelitis, and hepatitis. To prevent your kitchen from becoming a hotbed of bacteria, you should:
Signs of Infestation: regular sightings of live and dead insects, dark clusters of spots, feces, and maggots.
Effective pest control is vital to any commercial kitchen that cares about its reputation. And one bug is usually enough to ruin your inventory and scare away customers.
Eliminating pest infestations in restaurants and other establishments where food is served is never a simple task, mainly because it is both dangerous and against state regulations to use pesticides and rodenticides near the areas where food is prepared, served, and eaten. To make sure you’ll never have to worry about flies, rodents, ants, or cockroaches tarnishing your hard-earned reputation, seek the services of a pest control professional that provides proactive management and regular monitoring services, as well as preventative solutions to eliminate the risk of future infestations.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.