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Training Tip: Pest Prevention

Pest Prevention Cartoon

Integrated Pest Management methods

Like humans, rodents and other pests prefer to be warm during the wintery, cold days. Because of this, pests will often find ways into homes and buildings, especially if they can sense food. Pests, such as rodents, cockroaches, and flies, may carry dangerous diseases which can cause people to get very sick. To keep pests from contaminating food supplies and food contact surfaces, a food establishment should implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. An IPM program consists of several precautionary steps that are set up to keep pests out of facilities and to eliminate those pests that do get in.

It is important for your employees to understand methods for preventing infestations, be able to identify common pest indicators, and know what to do if there is a pest problem. This is a key aspect of food manager certification. To keep your IPM program running smoothly, train your employees on the items listed below:

What is the best way to prevent pest infestation?

The best way to control a pest infestation is to prevent it from happening. There are two main ways to prevent and control the presence of insects, rodents, and other pests:

  1. Block entry points (exclusion)
    Eliminating entry points for pests will help keep them out of your establishment. This could include patching holes in walls and keeping doors closed as often as possible. In addition to this, inspecting food shipments for signs of pests and rodents can help keep pests out of your establishment.
  2. Eliminate sources of food, water, and shelter
    Pests are always on the hunt for food, water, and shelter. Denying pests those necessities will deter them from entering and staying in your restaurant. Some common ways to keep food and shelter from pests include:
    • Storing food away from walls and at least six inches off the floor
    • Sealing workplace equipment to the floor or raising it at least six inches above the floor
    • Maintaining a sanitary work environment by cleaning and sanitizing preparation areas immediately after use
    • Disposing of trash carefully and regularly
    • Keeping dumpster areas clean

Pest infestation signs

In addition to preventing pests, it is important to know signs of pests to determine if you have a pest problem. Below are three common pests and indicators of an infestation:

  1. Cockroaches
    • Egg casings (small shells that are black, brown, or dark red)
    • Small droppings that look like black pepper grains
    • Strong oily orders
  2. Flies
    • Seeing flies regularly in your establishment
    • Observing a large number of flies around garbage cans or waste containers
      • Seeing a few flies every so often may not mean you have an infestation
  3.  Rodents
    • Small black droppings
      • Mice (droppings about the size of rice grains)
      • Rats (droppings about the size of jelly beans)
    • Strong smell of ammonia (rodent urine)
    • Nests made from materials such as lint and fabric

Restaurant pest control procedure

If you see a pest or find indications that you might have a pest infestation, you should contact a Pest Control Operator (PCO). Report to your PCO the time, date, and location of the sighting or indicators of the pest problems. The more information you provide your PCO, the more effective their visit will be. If treatment is needed in your facility, be sure that your PCO has the tools to treat a food establishment, such as approved pesticides, to help keep your food and equipment safe.

If you learn how to keep pests from entering your establishment, observe and monitor for pest infestation indicators, and know what to do if you suspect you do have a problem, you and your employees will maintain a healthy, safe working environment. To learn more about controlling rodents and pests or gain access to online trainings that are focused specifically on pest control contact

Food safety reminder

Seal cracks in walls and floors to keep pests from entering your establishment.

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Janilyn Hutchings

This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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