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Pest Control Tips for Fast Food Restaurants

NYC Eatery Hygiene Grade Pending

While pest control in food industry facilities is in many similar to pest management in the home, the health and financial risks can be much higher for fast food restaurants if proper precautions are not taken. Public health, reputation, effective management, and the sensitive and demanding nature of food processing pose unique challenges for a fast food establishment’s pest management efforts. Due to the public nature of these restaurants, a more rigorous and creative approach must be taken in order to combat pests.

Common Challenges with Pest Control in Restaurants

Sanitation. Public health is a primary concern in fast food restaurant pest control, and simple mistakes can have drastic consequences. Fast food employees must work quickly under high-pressure conditions, which means insects can be accidentally processed into the food or merely contaminate food with their feces or saliva. Flies and cockroaches account for 95 different kinds of bacteria and human diseases between them, potentially passing E. coli, staph or even food poisoning on to customers. And due to the high volume of customers many fast food establishments serve, a single source of contamination can spread to many people in a relatively short period of time.

Reputation. For a fast food chain, reputation is everything. A familiar, reliable product is what keeps customers keep coming back; however, if they feel their safety has been compromised, the breach of trust can result in damaging backlash. A well -known name can be easily tarnished due to even a temporary lapse in fast food restaurant pest control.

Comfort and safety. The importance of offering a safe and comfortable environment for customers can limit the pest control methods available to fast food establishments. Pest control in food industry settings can be a delicate matter, as harmful chemicals can permeate the air and contaminate food prep areas, posing a health risk to consumers. Alternatively, visible pest control such as insect catchers, bait or traps might warn customers away. Efficient pest control in restaurants requires the use of effective but unobtrusive methods.

Effective Pest Control for Fast Food Restaurants

Educate staff. Make sure managers and food handlers are properly informed about the risks of pests. Provide checklists and a means of keeping track of machine and utensil servicing. Tell them what to look out for in the case of a pest infestation, such as dirt tracks or eggs; common materials used for nesting; or the presence of insignificant-looking insects. Infestations can go unnoticed for a long time before they become a problem. Give staff the tools and awareness to nip pest problems in the bud.

Conduct regular pest inspections. In order to determine potential problem areas, inspect the facility on a monthly basis. Keep track of the date and time of inspections; temperature in the food processing environment as well as outside; building integrity issues; and general sanitation practices. Record where, if any, problem areas exist – including frequently wet or contaminated surfaces and proper sanitation practices. Check and repair vents and screens and make sure air intake and circulation systems are properly powered and maintained. Make frequent inspections a routine, or have a restaurant pest control provider do them for you.

Keep everything as clean, dry and inaccessible as possible. Without water, food or a way in, pests are powerless. Anything from improperly cleaned food processing equipment to leaky garbage bags or cans can lead to pest infestations. Pay special attention to the dumpster area, as this can be a big draw for rodents.

Choose your restaurant pest control provider wisely. Research the company to see how long they have been in business. Ask about their public profile and determine how many commercial clients they have. Be sure to ask what times of day you can access their services in order to limit potential public exposure. Research the methods or chemicals they employ, and seek data on possible harmful effects on customers and employees.

In the event of a pest management issue, newer products offer many alternatives. Undetectable liquids, waterproof dust formulations, insect growth regulators and special foams and baits can be applied to cracks, crevices and entryways. Most of these technologies are undetectable and are easily dispersed by the pests to other unreachable areas. Remember, however: Pest prevention is easier and more dependable than eliminating an infestation after the fact.

[ Photo by: Mike Licht,, on Flickr, via CC License ]

Commercial Pest Control: What Exclusion is and Why You Should Do It

The wallIn today’s greener marketplace, pest exclusion is an essential component of any commercial pest management plan. Gone are the days of commercial pest control services blanketing a facility with powerful chemicals to wipe out an infestation. These days, more businesses are choosing to apply the principles of integrated pest management, a more holistic and healthy form commercial pest control that works with the environment, biology and natural life cycle of pests to help curb populations.

One of the most important aspects of this approach to commercial pest management is known as exclusion. Pest exclusion is a preventative tactic that involves sealing up areas of your building where pests are likely to enter – essentially, denying pests access to the facility in the first place. The following is a look at how commercial pest control services apply pest exclusion tactics to prevent infestations from occurring.

Why Pest Exclusion is Important

Exclusion is essentially a facility’s first line of defense against a pest invasion. The idea behind this integrated pest management tactic is that it’s much easier (and safer for the environment) to simply keep pests out than to root out an infestation once it takes hold. Unfortunately, because insects and rodents are small and sneaky, many commercial buildings are rife with cracks, holes and other entry points that make ideal doorways for pests. The first thing a quality provider of commercial pest control services will do is thoroughly inspect the building for vulnerable areas and fortify them wherever possible.

How Pest Exclusion Works

The key to pest exclusion for large buildings – such as offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants, etc. – is sealing and securing all possible points of entry into the building. This includes cracks in the foundation, improperly sealed vents, drain pipes, garbage shoots and other points of entry that are not properly sealed off. Of course, some parts of the building must remain ventilated and open to some extent; the point is to make sure that there are no unnecessary open entry points. It’s also important to minimize possible traffic routes for insects and critters by keeping windows shut and screen meshes fastened and in good repair.

Other exclusion tactics recommended by integrated pest management experts involve keeping any organic matter away from the exterior of the building – including trash, compost, mulch and even fallen leaves – as these have a tendency to attract pests. Finally, removing inviting food, water, nesting and breeding sources from the inside of the building will help to create inhospitable conditions for pests.

Implementing a pest exclusion plan can be a huge undertaking, especially for a large facility. For best results, bring in a commercial pest management company to provide expert advice and solutions.

The Benefits of Pest Exclusion

Leading commercial pest control services are increasingly turning to pest exclusion for many reasons. Besides being cost effective – because fewer chemicals are used and more efficient methods are employed – pest exclusion is safe for both humans and the environment. Traditional commercial pest management once involved applying a lot of heavy-duty pesticides, which were hazardous to humans as well as pests. Because commercial buildings are often high-traffic areas where many people come and go, it’s important to ensure they provide a healthy as well as pest-free environment. It’s also important to acknowledge that pests are an important part a healthy eco-system, which means a balance between elimination and prevention must be sought.

There are plenty of pest control methods that do not rely on expensive technology or chemicals. Some of these techniques have been around for hundreds of years, while other are more recent inventions. Pest exclusion is a great example of an affordable and highly efficient approach to commercial pest management. In some cases, you can even get LEED certification points for your facility if you use integrated pest management.

Integrated pest management is a year-round approach to pest control. If your facility hasn’t already implemented pest exclusion measures, there are plenty of commercial pest control services available to help. Scheduling an inspection is a good place to begin; after that, all you need to do is stick to your pest exclusion routine.

[ Photo by: plastAnka, on Flickr, via CC License ]

Bed Bug Pest Control for Hospitals

hospital bedHospital pest control is a real challenge. Despite the modern sanitation and cleanliness practices of most hospitals, pests of all sorts seem to find their way in. This is partly due to the fact that hospitals are large complexes, with many entryways and exits. Hospitals are also high-traffic areas, with patients, doctors visitors and staff constantly moving around. These conditions make hospitals vulnerable to a whole host of pests – not the least of which are bed bugs.

Bed bug pest control for hospitals is made even more difficult by the continuous movement of beds and clothes throughout the hospital. A small bed bug infestation can spread quickly via such movement, and once they take hold, these pests are notoriously difficult to eliminate. That’s why effective hospital pest control requires formulating a proactive bed bug response plan with the help of a commercial pest management firm.

The Bed Bug Problem

Each year, hundreds of hospitals face some kind of bed bug pest control issue, often requiring assistance from a commercial pest management company. For example, the United Medical Center in Washington D.C. recently called on the help of a local commercial pest management help implement more effective hospital pest control practices. And as the bed bug epidemic has swept across the nation, hospitals have had an increasingly difficult time with these unsavory pests.

More importantly, recent research has shown that bed bugs can carry Staph bacteria and transmit it to humans. Staph bacterial infections can lead to numerous illnesses, including life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, toxic shock or meningitis. This means a bed bug infestation can pose a serious threat to patients – as well as to the reputation of the facility.

Knowing What to Look For

One key to preventing a bed bug outbreak is to know how to spot these pests early on, before they spread. A quality commercial pest management provider will train your hospital staff on what to look for and how to identify bed bugs in their various stages. Additionally, routine preventative inspections and bed bug tracking will keep your hospital well prepared for a possible bed bug infestation.

Disseminating information to hospital staff is critical for effective bed bug pest control. Proper training and monitoring can help medical facilities identify infestations early as well as ensure employees integrate good hospital pest control practices into their day-to-day activities.

Treating a Bed Bug Infestation

When it comes to hospital pest control, patient health and environmental health are two major concerns. Hospitals need to stay physically clean – free of bacteria, chemicals and toxins that do not pertain to medical procedures – as well as safe for patients who have poor health. That’s why it’s important to work closely with a commercial pest management company to identify minimally toxic bed bug pest control measures, such as heat treatments, that can be easily integrated into the hospital’s procedures and protocols.

Eliminating an infestation is not an overnight process; it requires diligence and coordination on the part of hospital staff as well as the pest management company. It also requires approaching the problem from multiple angles, as outlined in any effective bed bug response plan.

Being Prepared with a Bed Bug Response Plan

Proper hospital pest control methods for bed bugs, or any other pests, are not quick-fix solutions; rather, they are long-term investments that not only help prevent pest problems but can efficiently contain them if and when they do occur. In the long run, a preventative approach will pay dividends, allowing hospital staff to respond quickly and decisively.

An effective bed bug response plan includes a variety of components, such as site-specific responses to an outbreak, including isolation routes and proper disposal methods, and staff training and awareness. It’s important to have a staff member on duty at all times who can address and handle bed bug pest control issues. Having a quick-response system in place is what makes the difference between a rapidly contained infestation and a pest control nightmare spiraling out of control.

[ Photo by: Jo Naylor, on Flickr, via CC License ]

Commercial Pest Management: Creating a Bed Bug Response Plan

Seattle SheratonMany hotels and rental properties across the country have suffered bed bug infestations in the past couple of years, and it’s not only lowbrow establishments that have had to call for bed bug pest control. Indeed, even that paragon of elegance and luxury, the Waldorf Astoria, has been sued for bed bug damages.

Those who provide commercial pest control services can tell you that bed bugs know no economic class, creed or skin color; they are happy to suck on the blood of any human. They are also happy to hitchhike their way into any hotel or apartment. Indeed, all a bed bug family needs to thrive is a dark place to hide during the day and an unwitting human host to attack at night.

Bed bug pest control experts attest that bed bugs can catch a ride on luggage, backpacks or even clothing. Indeed, any fabric may play home to a bed bug. For that reason, nearly all modes of transportation can harbor these tiny vampires. Seats in buses, cars, taxi cabs, airplanes, light rail trains and even limos can become holding grounds for bed bugs, which jump from person to person until they find a good wall or baseboard to hide in. For a bed bug, any traveler is a vehicle that can take them to juicy new hunting grounds. Because hotels and apartments see so many newcomers and travelers, they are ripe for bed bug infestations.

Importance of Devising a Bed Bug Response Plan

A bed bug infestation is bad news for business. Guests will avoid hotels they believe have had problems with bed bug pest control. Moreover, disgruntled guests may sue a hotel for damages if they encounter an infestation. Rental properties face similar challenges. Renters will actively avoid any property they believe may have fallen victim to bed bugs.

Because these outcomes can be so toxic to business success, commercial pest control services recommend designing and implementing a bed bug response plan as soon as possible. It’s more cost-efficient to proactively attack the problem of bed bugs, rather than wait until an infestation has already popped up in your facility. A bed bug pest control expert can identify problematic areas on your property so you and your staff can quickly squash any invasion.

What to Include in Your Bed Bug Response Plan

It’s a good idea to hire a commercial pest management expert to help you devise a bed bug response plan. Commercial pest control services can quickly highlight areas where bed bugs are likely to lurk. They can also help you create the following components of a bed bug pest control plan:

Site-specific treatment methods. A commercial pest management partner can help you decide which bed bug pest control techniques will work best for your facility. As your bed bug response plan is being drafted, you can solidify protocols for communicating with your bed bug pest control partner. This is also the time to settle on pre- and post-treatment protocols, as well as preferred treatment methods. 

Staff training. Commercial pest control services can train your staff on what bed bugs look like at various stages of development. Staffers can also be trained on how to report a bed bug infestation and how to communicate with guests about bed bugs. Many bed bug pest control services will even deliver educational bed bug posters to be displayed in staff areas. If your staff is trained on bed bug protocol, any infestations can be handled quickly and effectively.

Ongoing preventative inspections. Ensure that your bed bug pest control plan includes regular inspections. Visual inspections of bed bug-prone areas are a good starting point. Some commercial pest management companies also use specially trained bed bug dogs to sniff out infestations. Finally, bed bug pest control professionals can install climb-up interceptors on bed legs to prevent bed bugs that do appear from feeding.

Bed bug record keeping. Progressive bed bug pest control firms include careful record keeping in their commercial pest control services. Tracking bed bug treatments and infestation patterns helps pest control experts streamline future services.

By creating and implementing a response plan, you can feel confident that even if a bed bug infestation does hit your property, business will continue as usual.

[ Photo by prayitno, on Flickr, via CC License ]

Back to School: Benefits of Integrated Pest Management for Schools

Public concern over the use of pesticides on the rise, and a big reason is the health impacts these chemicals can have on children. Considering that children spend a large chunk of their waking hours at school, some states have placed a high priority on ensuring the least amount of pesticides possible are being used in and around the school buildings.

Commercial pest control services are often overlooked when it comes to creating a safe learning environment for students. When a pest or rodent problem arises, sprays and traps are copiously applied and, later, reapplied if the problem persists. All the while, the children are exposed to these excessive pesticides – and in some cases are getting sick because of them.

Due to the health risks involved with chemical-heavy commercial pest management techniques, 15 states across the country have deemed safer pest control a high priority for schools. These states have identified Integrated Pest Management as a solution that not only creates a healthier environment but is also a proven and effective commercial pest management approach that actually reduces the number of pest complaints at schools.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management is a practice that utilizes up-to-date, inclusive information on the life sequences of pests and how they interact with their environments in order to create an individual commercial pest prevention plan for each school. Instead of coming to the building with fume-guns- a-fuming, commercial pest control services that practice IPM take a closer look to determine what type of pest control is required and which methods are least risky for the children.

Management and observation of the building is key. Commercial pest management firms applying IPM principles do not take a cookie-cutter approach; rather, they utilize a wide spectrum of less invasive procedures that can be as simple as filling cracks; removing food or water sources; replacing weather stripping; and cutting back bushes and trees away from the building.

Benefits of Integrated Pest Management

In a school setting, IPM offers a number of benefits, including:

Better health for kids. Integrated Pest Management tactics call for fewer chemical applications; in most cases, the use of pesticides is reduced by more than 80 percent. When chemicals are used, only those with the least toxicity are applied. This results in a safer and healthier learning environment for kids.

Affordability. Integrated Pest Management is affordable. School districts can spend tens of thousands of unnecessary dollars on commercial pest control services where IPM is not applied. For most districts these days, that is a lot of money that could be useful in other areas of the budget. In some states, more than 80 percent of schools spray for pests regularly – that’s thousands of dollars of unnecessary spraying when IPM could free up more than half the cost and utilize more environmentally aware methods.

Long-term savings. Several school districts in the United States have reported thousands of dollars in long-term cost savings through IPM – one district in Maryland saved as much as $6,000 in three years. States that have required the use Integrated Pest Management in schools have unanimously agreed it is a cost-effective, simple and incredibly successful program. Not only are the schools safer for students, but the money saved can be utilized in other areas: new computers, building repairs, field trips, books or supplies.

More learning. With less use of pesticides, some schools may see increased attendance because teachers and students are not suffering from common ailments due to pesticide exposure, such as asthma and headaches. Teachers will be healthier and able to create more positive learning experiences, while children will experience fewer of the learning challenges that can be brought on by overuse of pesticides.

Cleaner schools. Improved sanitation and maintenance are also potential side effects of Integrated Pest Management. IPM requires more frequent cleaning of trouble areas where food can collect and draw unwanted pests. Proper food storage could prevent infested goods and, ideally, reduce the amount of cafeteria waste.

The benefits of Integrated Pest Management are broad. Applying a dash of common sense combined with a thorough understanding of pests and their environments has proven to be an effective recipe for a healthier, happier school community. IPM makes commercial pest management more kid-friendly, and more than a dozen states across the nation have brought IPM into their schools. Has yours?

[Photo by: -Marlith-]