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Restaurant Patrons Swatting Away Flies and Much More

Restaurant Patrons Swatting Away Flies and Much More

By Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services, Orkin, LLC

At one point or another, most restaurant patrons have had the unfortunate experience of swatting away flies while eating their meals. Some patrons have even experienced a cockroach crawl across their plate. While neither pest is a welcomed sight in the foodservice industry, you may be surprised to learn that house flies are actually twice as filthy.

In a survey recently released by Orkin, half of respondents reported a pest sighting during a restaurant visit in the past 12 months. Ninety-five percent of those sightings included flies and 75 percent of those sightings went unreported because restaurant patrons don’t consider flies a major issue.

Flies are known to spread disease-causing pathogens as they move quickly from potentially disease-laden garbage to exposed human foods and utensils. Every time a fly lands, it can leave behind thousands of germs that can cause serious illnesses such as diarrhea, food poisoning, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

Despite these health threats, a separate survey conducted by Orkin found that 61 percent of restaurant patrons said they would continue eating their meal after a fly touched and contaminated their food, while only 3 percent would continue eating food on which a cockroach crawled.

Restaurant patrons are at risk of being exposed to serious disease transmission if flies enter food preparation or dining areas. As a result, it’s important for restaurant owners and operators to understand the magnitude of the health threats flies pose so they can help prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases and bacteria – not to mention protect their reputation and bottom line.

Work with a pest management professional to implement the following tactics to help keep flies from disturbing your diners and your business:

  • Inspection. Carefully inspect for flies on all food and related materials as they are off-loaded from trucks. Generally, fly eggs are too small to notice so any adult fly activity should be noted if spotted on incoming materials.

  • Exclusion. Using exclusion methods can help prevent flies from getting inside. Caulk any cracks or crevices around the exterior of your building, seal all doors and windows with weather stripping, and install correctly-fitting door sweeps. Consider using air curtains and work with an HVAC professional to ensure your facility has positive air pressure. Additionally, avoid placing lights above doors as this can attract flies to the building and into entrances.

  • Sanitation. Most flies thrive in warm, moist conditions and seek out sites to reproduce. A complete sanitation program can help keep flies to a minimum by eliminating the food and water sources flies need to survive. Proper sanitation also helps eliminate orders, which can be a first attractant for many fly species.

  • Mechanical Control. Flies are attracted to certain wave lengths of light. Use wall-mounted Insect Light Traps (ILTs) as low to the floor as possible (below 5 feet) to catch house flies. Wall-mounted units can also be used for nighttime flying insects in areas where ceilings are no more than 8 to 10 feet. Position units near entrances with the light directed so it is not visible from the outside entrance.

The good news is that flies are never the problem, they are only the symptom of a problem. Being aware of what is going in your establishment and being proactive are the key to protecting your business.

Ron Harrison, Entomologist, Ph.D., is Director of Technical Services for Orkin and an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. Contact Dr. Harrison at or visit for more information.

Source: Foodservice East


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