Food service establishments dread the thought of pests, as well they should. Not only can pests give you low scores on inspections, they can cost you money on contaminated foods that have to be thrown away and can drive customers right out the doors.
It is easy to see why pest management is a part of almost any food service establishment, but do you use the right kind of pest management? The Health Department has found that the most effective, healthiest and, in the long run, cheapest method of controlling pests is with the use of Integrated Pest Management.
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
It is the use of integrated techniques, such as exclusion, sanitation and baiting, to control pests and anything else you dont want inside your food establishment. It also utilizes management tools that provide reports on pest location, pest type, needed repairs and other processes. IPM uses the least toxic methods that will get the job done.
Using “crack and crevice” extermination vs. Integrated Pest Management
Food service establishments attract pests. Traditionally, cockroaches are treated by a crack and crevice type of application monthly. This is when the exterminator sprays cracks and crevices with a pesticide to kill the cockroaches. Unfortunately, this extermination method does not permanently solve a pest problem, and often creates new issues:
- The spray doesn’t just enter cracks and crevices. It can spread and cover food, food contact surfaces and other areas.
- This type of treatment only affects cockroaches near the surface, not those hidden away. Flushing agents with the spray also can cause the cockroaches to spread to previously uninfected areas.
- Spraying does not kill the egg cases that female cockroaches carry. When those eggs hatch, the baby cockroaches eat anything that they can get, grow, reproduce and the cycle begins all over again. Spraying is similar to farming cockroaches because it empties out the environment. This leaves plenty of room and food to let all the cockroaches you didn’t kill thrive. And the cycle starts up again.
Using an Integrated Pest Management program will yield different results.
- To start, you may consult a pest management professional and complete a thorough cleaning of your workplace. This helps remove food sources for the cockroaches, removes the dead cockroaches and egg cases (also a food, and an allergen, source) and removes roach feces and body parts (frass, which looks a little like pepper sprinkled around cracks and crevices, also a food source, particularly for baby cockroaches and an allergen as well).
- Cracks and crevices would be sealed, preventing shelter for the cockroaches. Your pest management professional might want to monitor for current or further infestations by placing sticky traps out in likely areas of infestation.
- The pest management professional might also place bait out for the cockroaches. Bait works very well in cockroach infestations because baits dont disperse by themselves like sprays do. The cockroaches actually do part of your job for you by eating the baits and then carrying them back to where the other cockroaches have gathered. When they defecate, the feces are poisonous, and the baby cockroaches will eat them and die as well. One major concern with baits is that they can be contaminated by both sprays and nicotine, so it is very important not to use any sprays around them. Keep all unauthorized pesticides out of your establishments.
There are other steps involved that need to be discussed with your pest management professional. What works with cockroaches does not necessarily work with other pests, and vice versa. Each situation is different, which is why we call this pest management. It involves knowledge, effort and time. But it has been shown to be extremely effective, and can make your establishment healthier for you, your employees and your patrons.
For further information, please feel free to contact Michael Swoyer, supervisor of rat control, at the City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department, at 816-513-6010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.