Certain creatures are prone to infiltrating food preparation areas if the environment isn’t kept clean and tidy. These are known as food pests – this usually means mice, rats, birds and insects such as flies, ants and cockroaches. They are notorious for spreading food poisoning bacteria. They can carry diseases and they can also cause physical contamination if they leave droppings, urine or fur behind, or even if they die and their bodies end up in food. And the same rules apply for pets or stray animals – as cute as they may be, they need to stay away from food preparation, handling and serving areas, and away from anyone who is involved in these processes. Food pests love four things – moisture, warmth, shelter and food. So that means there’s a few things you need to do to avoid having these unwelcome guests. To prevent pest infestation, you need to:
- Check food packaging as soon as it’s delivered to ensure it’s sealed and undamaged
- Store food products in the correct place, on shelving and off the floor
- Keep food covered
- Keep work areas clean and tidy
- Empty bins regularly
And you must inform your supervisor if you see any signs of pests, either inside or immediately outside your workplace. Your organisation may have bait boxes put in by a pest control contractor and you need to avoid touching them at all costs – they are small boxes that contain toxic bait for rodents to eat. Pests are another reason why the detergent and sanitiser cleaning process is so important – pests can’t be drawn in by food crumbs and sweet spills that aren’t there!