No one likes seeing ants crawling in their kitchen or mice scurrying around their basement. But when pests like these enter your foodservice establishment, the situation isn’t only bothersome. Pests can also be vectors, or carriers, of pathogens to your food and then to your customers. Lack of pest control, like other food safety violations, can also result in damaged reputations and potential lawsuits.
As a manager, you are busy supervising employees, ensuring food safety, and providing customer care. You do not have the time or expertise to take care of a pest infestation on your own. That’s where licensed pest control operators (or PCOs) come in.
Effective pest removal
Hiring a PCO will ensure that your pest problem is handled professionally and effectively. If your attempts to remove pests are not thorough, you could end up having a very long and expensive battle on your hands. Working with a licensed PCO means that pests will be removed quickly and completely. This will help you avoid foodborne illness outbreaks and damage to food and property. Resolving a pest problem right away will reduce the likelihood of further disruptions.
Safe implementation of pesticides and traps
Did you know that some pesticides can only be applied by someone who is certified to use them? These are called “restricted use pesticides." Pesticides are restricted based on their toxicity and the risks of adverse effects. Licensed PCOs are certified to apply or supervise the application of deadly pesticides. They have the knowledge and skills necessary to do so without contaminating food or causing harm to people. Additionally, PCOs can advise the use of non-chemical interventions such as traps and teach you how to maintain and clean them.
Professional advice on preventing future pests
PCOs are also valuable partners in creating solutions that will prevent future pest infestations. They can propose measures that will keep pests out of your establishment. In fact, many PCOs will help you create an integrated pest management plan. They can answer your questions about how pests might affect your establishment. They can also help you determine how to secure entry points and remove pests’ access to food and shelter. That way, you're less likely to need them to come back later to treat an infestation!
For these reasons, working with a licensed pest control operator is the best way to prevent and handle pest infestations. Be sure to call on them at the first signs of pests to help your PCO do their job efficiently.
If the PCO determines that pesticides are needed, do your part to limit chemical contamination. Remove food and food-contact surfaces from the area. Use waterproof covers on food-contact surfaces and equipment that cannot be removed. After the pesticide treatment, clean and sanitize your equipment. Taking these steps will help you and your PCO make sure pest removal is effective and safe.
For more information about handling pests, check out our Food Manager Certification and Training or our training tip on pest prevention.
— Diana Shelton
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