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Serve Up an Extra Helping of Sanitation

Implement Simple Cleaning Techniques to Turn Pests Away from Your Establishment

By Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., B.C.E., Director of Quality Systems, Orkin, Inc.

The fast-paced world of foodservice requires you to juggle hundreds of details at once. Your sanitation program can have a domino effect on other aspects of your business, so it’s one area you can’t afford to overlook. In addition to earning you points on your health inspections and impressing customers, sanitation plays an integral role in pest prevention.

By their very nature, foodservice environments attract pests. Kitchens and dining areas provide pests’ three basic needs – food, water and shelter. But the presence of pests is not only a nuisance to you and your staff, it’s also a turn-off to patrons and a health hazard to inspectors. Flies, cockroaches and rodents can transmit dangerous foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella, E. coli and Hantavirus.

While there’s no doubt that pests pose a major threat to your establishment, a simple solution lies in the form of three letters: IPM, or Integrated Pest Management. By implementing preventive practices before pest problems occur, IPM programs take a proactive approach to pest control. In the daily fight against pests, you and your staff can implement stringent sanitation, one of the cornerstones of effective IPM.

Implement the following sanitation techniques in your establishment, starting with the most likely place pests will gather – the kitchen.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

The food, waste and odors a kitchen produces make an irresistible combination for pests. But when it comes to your kitchen, one critter is one too many, so work with your staff to incorporate a few simple sanitation steps into your daily routine.

  • Frequently inspect your food storage area, as pests can hitchhike into your establishment by way of your suppliers. Check your inventory regularly for damaged or destroyed product.

  • Remove trash daily, especially if it contains food waste. Don’t leave any trash bags or boxes sitting outside your building where they can become a welcome home to pests.

  • Remove drain covers and scrub drains with organic cleaner to control any grease or grime accumulation. Flies seek this buildup as a breeding ground.

Table for Two

The dining area is another place pests like to visit. They might not get a seat at the table, but they are happy to feed on the leftovers. Stay on top of cleaning throughout the day to prevent pest activity after hours.

  • Sweep or vacuum under tables and chairs to remove crumbs and spills. Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to remove dust in hard-to-reach pest hiding places, such as along walls and in cracks and crevices.

  • When customers leave, wipe down tables and chairs. Even the smallest crumbs can serve as a feast to smaller pests like ants.

  • Clean up spills immediately, even if they are just water. Mice can glean enough nourishment from a few drops to survive in your establishment.

The Great Outdoors

When it comes to attracting pests, it’s not just what’s on the inside that counts. The area that surrounds your business can also play a major role in drawing these unwanted patrons. Take steps to keep your parking lot and dumpster areas clean to discourage pests from approaching your building.

  • Hose down your sidewalk and parking lot to remove any garbage or debris that might attract pests looking for a snack.

  • Keep dumpsters as far away from the building as possible so pests won’t have a reason to get close. Clean and rotate dumpsters frequently to disrupt any pests that have decided to move in.

  • Eliminate any standing water surrounding your building such as rain puddles or leaks from air conditioning units. Water will draw pest birds and other nuisance pests.

Work with your pest management provider to create a thorough sanitation plan that will correspond with your IPM program. A reputable provider will work with your staff to not only implement the techniques above, but also to educate your team on the importance of sanitation. Effective pest management is contingent on an open line of communication between you, your pest management provider and your employees. By adopting these ongoing sanitation practices, your foodservice business can make the grade and impress patrons all at once.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Director of Quality Systems for Orkin, Inc. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail or visit


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