Evidence of bite marks on food packages, rodent droppings, the discovery of nesting materials like torn paper, are all signs that a kitchen or food handling area has a problem with pests. Uncovering a pest infestation is a major food safety issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Pests are known to carry diseases that can lead to cross-contamination and food-borne illnesses, posing a distinct threat to consumers. It’s also possible for pests to cause structural damage (mice can chew through cupboards and electrical wires) and have a significant impact on food waste. To avoid an ongoing issue with pests and prevent an infestation from occurring it’s important to follow these three rules:
1. Maintain excellent overall hygiene and waste management
Pests will instinctively be drawn to strong food odours and to areas that are warm and dry. Food spills, open bins and exposed food scraps will attract pests so it’s important to keep bins closed at all times, use bin liners and ensure that rubbish is removed regularly. Clean spills immediately and keep all work surfaces clean and tidy.
2. Block off entry points
To stop pests from entering the food preparation area ensure that doors and windows are kept closed and that the seals are tight. Install screens on doors and windows if they’re open for ventilation. Make sure that any pipes or drains are covered with metal gates and check any food deliveries for signs of pests (e.g. bite marks, droppings, movement in dry goods).
3. Store food appropriately
If a pest can’t see or smell food, they are less likely to enter the food preparation area in the first place. Keep food in tightly sealed containers made from stainless steel, glass or food-grade plastic and store these containers on shelves off the ground and away from the walls. Never leave food scraps, unused foods or open packets of food, lying around. Check all storage containers regularly for signs of wear and tear and dispose of any containers that are cracked or have loose-fitting lids and regularly inspect dry goods for weevils.