In the never-ending battle to keep restaurants pest free, effective restaurant operators develop good habits that help prevent infestations, says Jennifer Brumfield, an entomologist for the New Jersey based pest control company, Western Pest Services.
“They have a high standard of sanitation,” Brumfield says.
Some operators, however, are less than diligent when it comes to cleaning, which makes their restaurants vulnerable to pests, she adds.
Bad habits perpetuated by operators can lead to serious problems with flies, roaches, ants, rodents and other vermin. Pests contaminate food as well as kitchen equipment and other surfaces. They also infest food items and stored products including grains and dry goods. Pests are known to spread diseases such E. coli and Salmonella, to name a few.
Here are some common bad habits that can lead to pest problems, putting the health and safety of employees and customers at risk, not to mention risking a restaurant’s reputation. As an antidote, Brumfield suggests good habits operators should develop.
- Not placing tight-fitting lids on trash containers.
- Not ensuring that dumpster lids fit tightly and that the lids stay down.
- Failing to clean the inside of trash container cabinets and the trash containers themselves, including the bottoms.
- Keeping a dumpster too close to the back door of the building.
- Making sure lids fit properly and that trash bins and their cabinets are cleaned on a regular basis.
- Taking out the trash nightly.
- Keeping dumpsters 15 to 20 feet from the building.
- Propping doors open for deliveries, for fresh air or when employees go outside for a cigarette.
- Not allowing employees to prop open doors. Installing strip door curtains (hanging rubber strips which employees can walk through, but magnetically close behind them). Such curtains help prevent flies from entering, especially during deliveries.
- Making sure door seals are tight. Install door sweeps on the bottom of doors if they gap with the floor. “Mice only need a half inch to gain entry to the building, so if you can see light coming through the door there is a good chance a rodent can squeeze through,” Brumfield says. “Roaches also can get in.”
- Excluding drains from your operation's daily sanitation program. Allowing food debris and grease to build up in the drains, creating a breeding ground for flies and roaches.
- Pouring bleach down the drain and assuming that will solve the problem.
- Having the drains professionally cleaned and then incorporating an enzyme-based cleaner into your daily cleaning routine. The enzyme cleaner will eat the grease. “It’s a living organism which will out-consume flies and roaches in eating grease,” Brumfield says.
- Not informing employees where grease traps are located. “I’m amazed that some restaurants will have a roach problem, and staffers don’t know where the grease traps are or how they are maintained,” Brumfield says.
- Ensuring that grease traps are cleaned out on a regular basis.
- Keeping food in cardboard containers where roaches can hide. Not storing food in containers with tight-fitting lids, thereby giving roaches, flies and rodents access.
- Making sure lids are tight and that food is properly stored in airtight containers and kept at the correct temperatures.
- Rotating products so the first items stored are the first items used.
CRACKS AND CREVICES
- Ignoring holes or cracks in walls and floors or allowing organic debris to accumulate in the grout between tiles. Pests can hide and flourish in cracks, and gain access to your restaurant’s interior through holes.
- Repairing holes, cracks and structural issues in the building when you first see them.
- Ignoring the early signs of a pest problem — a fruit fly, rodent droppings or a roach sighting.
- Encouraging employees to report anything they see. Whoever’s job it is to monitor sanitation should have a logbook to report pest sightings before they get out of hand.
- Not cleaning thoroughly and often, and not paying attention to minor details. Failing to clean up crumbs and spills as they occur. Not routinely cleaning liquor wells, soda machine nozzles and kitchen floor mats. Being in a hurry and not taking the time to clean properly.
- Having a high standard of sanitation. Creating checklists and assigning employees to make sure tasks are completed daily.
“Restaurants with bad habits don’t do the micro-cleaning, but that’s where pests live,” Brumfield says. “They live in the micro-world.”