Food safety

Pest control in restaurants

Pests carry both physical and biological food hazards, making them a food safety risk priority.

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Pests carry both physical and biological food hazards, making them a food safety risk priority.

  • Pests pose a significant health risk of food contamination, product spoilage, and structural damage.
  • If you suspect a possible infestation, you should contact a local pest control officer.
  • All food service establishments must have a proper pest control plan, it is a prerequisite program to a HACCP plan.

The last thing you want your customers to see in your restaurant is a mouse or cockroach dining with them in your service area. This unfortunate event can land you a very bad online review or outcome. Pests carry a significant food safety risk along with them. They can become carriers of foodborne illnesses that can spread the disease fast. The presence of pests violates several food safety regulations and can put your business out in an instant. Pest control in restaurants is a must and should always be monitored consistently.

Pest management contributes a significant portion when it comes to food safety inspections. Even signs of pests detected by a health inspector can lead to the conclusion that your restaurant has become a cozy environment for pests, which is a clear violation of health codes. Reports of pests can cause rippling effects on your food business. Bad reviews from customers observing pests in your establishment can mean fatal news for you. Your team must always understand that there is no room for any sign of pests in your food facility to maintain food safety and your reputation.

Prevent foodborne diseases caused by pests by understanding the principles of pest control and establishing a food safety management system with FoodDocs.


Why is Pest Control in restaurants important?

Pest control in restaurants is the collection of food-safe operations established to reduce or completely eliminate the presence of pests in a food facility. 

Pests, such as mice, cockroaches, and birds, pose a significant health risk of food contamination, product spoilage, and structural damage. They are known carriers of diseases as well as disease-causing pathogens that can be transferred to foods when uncontrolled. Technically, they can bring multiple types of food safety hazards.

Having a pest control management plan for restaurants can help reduce the likelihood of causing foodborne illness to the customers. Without controlling points, such as their food source and habitat, pests can thrive and multiply quickly.

Pests are very resilient and can live in very unfavorable conditions, and kitchens in food facilities can create a very conducive environment for them without proper controls. Some pests can even withstand common deterring agents. This point makes control and prevention keys to keeping pests away from your food business.

The presence of pests does not only pose problems for food safety. Pests can also significantly affect the perception of customers about your restaurant. Any report of pest sightings in your food facility can turn into big news and can be repulsive to customers.


food with a pest on it


What causes pest infestation in restaurants?

Pests enjoy the same foods as customers do. This means that they target the same food you prepare and serve to consumers. With a facility that is rich in food and water resources, pests are likely to gather in a kitchen that is not well-cleaned and maintained.


Here are a few things that are most likely attracting pests to your food facility:

  • Unmanaged food waste. This factor attracts pests the most. Uncleaned food spills, unmanaged trash cans with food organic matter, and stagnant water attract pests the most. When foods are left unattended, insects, such as fruit flies and cockroaches, can quickly infest the food. 
  • Unclean, dark, and empty spaces. Most pests prefer dark and damp spaces, such as the backside of a storage area or cupboard. This area makes for a good breeding place for a variety of spider infestations. Always ensure that your team regularly checks and cleans even the corners of your facility.
  • Inadequate personal hygiene. Food handlers can bring in pests to the kitchen. Improper personal hygiene must be addressed immediately, such as handwashing, wearing hair restraints, and bathing every day. 
  • Unmaintained equipment and furniture. Even if you do not use a piece of equipment frequently, your team should still schedule it for cleaning. Most machines have hard-to-reach areas where food can get stuck and attract tiny pests. In addition, always schedule regular maintenance of cabinets, tables, and chairs to avoid attracting insects that can damage furniture.
  • Unnoticed entry spots. Pests naturally originate from the outside environment. Mice, rats, birds, and cockroaches can travel through small cracks in your ceiling or walls. A variety of rodent issues can also occur if you have unsealed ceiling entry points. Some pests can create their own entry holes and cause extensive damage in the long run. Regular inspections must include sealing entry points to prevent the unwanted entry of pests.

All of the previously mentioned factors that could result in pest infestations can stem from the lack of integrated pest management. An effective pest management program is considered an essential prerequisite for establishing a comprehensive food safety plan for a food service establishment.

FoodDocs provides a solution to this lengthy problem. Using our digital solution, you can get a comprehensive digital HACCP food safety plan complete with a pest control management plan. With our built-in software, you can get your digital HACCP plan and pest management plan in just 1 hour.


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Hot spots for pests in restaurants

Now that you know some of the major factors that attract pests in a dining establishment, your team needs to locate areas that need to be monitored for pest control. Covering the areas most prone to infestations can reduce the likelihood of causing foodborne illnesses and related dangerous diseases from this food safety risk.

    • Waste area. This spot includes indoor trash bins and outside dumpsters. All trash cans and other receptacles for food waste must have proper lids to reduce the likelihood of attracting insects. In addition, practice proper segregation of waste for easier sorting and disposal. 

As part of your pest control management plan, include the frequency of clearing out trash bins and the proper way of disposing of trash bags. 

    • Food storage area. If there is one place in your restaurant where there are food ingredients and dark corners, it would be your food storage area. The abundance of food in your commercial kitchen storage area is very attractive to all sorts of pests. Regularly inspect the corners of the storage area where cockroaches and other insects may house. 

    • Fixtures and furniture. This hot spot is common for older food establishments. Tables, cupboards, and light fixtures may often house wood-infesting pests. It's also very common to see dead insects on light guards as they are attracted to the light. Regularly clean out light guards and furniture.

    • Windows, exhausts, and doors. The main pests that can cause damage and contamination to your food facility through windows and roofs are birds. These pests can produce droppings that can build up over time and attract other pests, such as ants and cockroaches.

    • Floor drains. Floor drains attract different types of flies, especially if they are not properly cleaned. They can also serve as passageways for other insects.

    • Receiving area. Maintaining the cleanliness of your restaurant includes monitoring what comes in and out of your food facility. Supply of food does not only need to be delivered chilled; they also need to be clean. Food delivery trucks often go unnoticed, but they can bring in pests that tag along the crates of fresh food.

    • Large equipment. Equipment and machines, such as a meat slicers, often have hard-to-reach areas. This reason is why most machines require dismantling for sanitation. Pests can easily crawl their way into these areas to feed on stuck food debris.

Cleaning and sanitation are integral parts of any food safety plan. All areas, regardless of size, must be consistently cleaned and monitored to ensure safety and quality food. Some areas may need less frequent cleaning, but schedules for cleaning and sanitation must never be disregarded.

Create a schedule and a Pest Control Checklist for all the areas of your restaurant in order to clean effectively and prevent pest infestation and restaurant violations.


bird on the dining table


What should you do if you suspect a possible pest infestation?

If you suspect a possible infestation, you should contact a local pest control officer. Your team must document all obvious signs of suspected infestation and provide them to the commercial pest control service provider. A clean-up and preventive maintenance must then be scheduled to ensure that pests are addressed.

Pay close attention during the professional pest control service operation. Assign an employee who will inspect the process before and after pest control. Ensure all pointers and pest control guidelines handed out by the control officer will be implemented to address future pest control issues. 

Pest control is an everyday task. A significant part of this operation is the everyday inspection of signs and potential hiding places.


Pest infestation signs in a restaurant

The presence of pests often starts with very simple common signs. Pests such as insects and rodents leave traces such as droppings, which could be indicative of how severe the infestation has become and the type of pest that is present. 

You can use signs to tell whether there is a need to contact the pest control officer or when to replenish pest control equipment, such as baits and traps.

Have you seen any of these pest infestation signs recently?

  • Animal droppings (e.g., rats, birds, and lizards)
  • Damaged food packaging or small restaurant structures
  • Loose crumbs of food
  • Footprint
  • Webs and signs of nests
  • Insect parts or bodies of pest, and skin shedding
  • Foul smell (e.g., strong smell of ammonia)
  • Grease trails
  • Unusual sound, usually in ceilings

Early detection of any active pest or sign of infestation can significantly make a difference in the required effort to control pests. Depending on the detected signs of pests, the approach may vary. 

Do you want to test your team's aptitude on food safety matters? Use our free food safety quiz tool to train food handlers on important food safety topics.


What is the best way to prevent a pest infestation?

The best way to prevent pest infestation is to establish a comprehensive pest control system as part of your prerequisite programs, which will contribute to your HACCP plan. A pest control program includes the correct preventive measures to eliminate the likelihood of attracting pests in a food establishment.

A pest control program also provides in-depth information on the types of pests and particular everyday food-handling practices that will help deter these pests. Pest control programs involve inspections and intensive analysis of your food facility to determine the appropriate preventive actions and corrective procedures.


pest control examiner


What should food handlers do to keep pests out of their kitchen?

Pests gather where there is food and humid environments, thus making food facilities a vulnerable target to a wide range of pests. Food handlers must be properly trained to identify pest infestation signs and the appropriate control measures.

Different types of pests can carry pathogenic microorganisms. In addition, they can cause cross-contamination in foods very fast. The risk of causing food poisoning or a foodborne illness outbreak increases significantly with pests in the facility.

Food handlers can significantly control the presence of pests with four basic steps:

  1. Deny access to food
  2. Deny entry
  3. Deny shelter
  4. Destroy pests

Pests have no reason to infest your food facility if it is well-maintained and clean and foods are always stored correctly. These four main operations cover the key points of restaurant pest control needs.

Pest control is an important part of every food safety training. Read more about how important it is for food handlers to have adequate knowledge about food safety and how you can help them train in this article.


Tips for restaurant pest control

As mentioned, pest control for restaurants must be done on a regular basis. Routine food handling operations can significantly affect the presence of pests.

To help food handlers prevent infestation, follow these tips for safe pest control techniques:

  • Regularly empty all trash receptacles
  • Provide a tight-fitting lid for trash bins
  • Seal cracks and any entry points for mice
  • Store foods in tight containers
  • Install air curtains in entryways to the kitchen
  • if applicable, keep branches of trees in the surrounding environment regularly trimmed
  • Immediately clean food spills and maintain clean kitchen surfaces
  • Regularly clean and sanitize the kitchen area
  • Dispose of any stagnant water
  • Set up and regularly replenish control baits and other pest control treatments
  • Instruct food handlers to only eat in designated areas
  • Schedule regular pest control maintenance

Pest control officers often provide a variety of pest control products and equipment for common pests, such as biocontrol and mechanical baits. Make sure to orient your team on how to use the pest control tools and when to replenish them for optimum benefits.


What is Pest Control Reporting?

Pest control reporting refers to the process of documenting a potential pest infestation in your establishment and relaying the information to a pest expert and control officer for the solution. It is an important communication aspect of a restaurant pest control plan. An effective pest control management program must have proper pest control reporting procedures. 

The pest control report includes proof of sighting and signs of infestation, identification of signs, the location of infestation signs, corrective actions, and recommended next procedures. The report must be verified by the manager in charge of the commercial kitchen and pest management. The collected report can be provided to commercial pest control companies to speed up the process of addressing the problems.


How to report pest infestation

For a more effective restaurant pest control service, food handlers must create a document that captures the most essential information regarding restaurant pest control issues. 

Include the following information to make a cohesive report of pest infestation:

  • Location of sighting
  • Observed signs of infestation
  • The employee who reported the infestation
  • Presence of pest control tool near the place of sighting
  • Corrective actions applied

If you are using any chemical pesticide, your team must also note its EPA registration number for safety. All this information will help the pest control officer address the pest issue. Ensure that anyone from your team will participate during the pest control process to gather information in preventing future occurrences of infestation.


Implementing Pest Control Plan to ensure food safety

As a restaurant owner, one of the main components of your approach to food safety must include an integrated pest management program. This can be achieved by partnering with a commercial pest management service provider and establishing your own pest control plan. 

Any additional pest pressure must be addressed even before you start opening your food service business. Regulatory agencies may require adequate pest control for food service from your team to ensure food safety.

At FoodDocs, we can help you create your pest control plan and maintain compliance with pest control regulations most efficiently and effectively.


How to create Pest Control Plan

Building a pest control plan is part of the essential prerequisite programs before establishing a HACCP plan. Pests can be effectively controlled when food handlers know the required procedures to address potential entry points for pests. 

At FoodDocs, you can get a customizable Pest Control Plan composed of the following sections:

  • Potential hazard description
  • Preventive measures
  • Corrective action
  • Appropriate monitoring procedures


Prerequisite program: Pest Control Plan from FoodDocs


Moreover, our built-in digital HACCP plan builder can create a customizable and comprehensive HACCP plan based on your operations. With our digital solution, you can get the following components:

  • Basic flowchart of your operations
  • Hazard analysis
  • Established critical control points (CCP) with critical limits
  • Established monitoring procedures
  • Corrective action plan
  • Verification procedures
  • Recordkeeping and documentation procedures

What used to be a month-long process of making a HACCP plan can now be done in just 1 hour using our customizable HACCP plan template builder. Our digital solution is 500x faster than hiring a food safety consultant to help you build a paper-based HACCP plan.

You can get all of these essential HACCP plan documents by simply providing our system information about your operations. Using artificial intelligence and a machine-learning program, our system can generate all HACCP plan parts and your pest control plan within 1 hour.


Pest control reporting software

Once you have established your HACCP food safety plan with an integrated pest management plan, you will need a comprehensive system to ensure that the plans are consistently followed. As we have previously emphasized, pest control is an everyday task.

Food handlers must regularly remember when to check baits, replenish traps, and report any sighting of infestation signs. Use our digital Food Safety Management System, which features digital solutions for creating pest control reports and food safety monitoring logs.

Intuitively solve pest control and food safety operation using our digital solution with the following benefits:

  • Get an automatically generated Pest Control that you can use to document and communicate pest control sightings within your food facility. Attach photos and files as proof of pest control activities, and easily tag concerned departments for seamless reporting.
  • Along with the pest control plan, our system can also automatically generate digital monitoring logs and checklists that include important pest control operations. Use our Sanitation and Cleaning Schedule to monitor and routinely replenish pest control tools.


Sanitation and cleaning feature FoodDocs

Sanitation Schedule from FoodDocs


  • Use our smart notification system from our food safety application. This feature alerts food handlers whenever a task needs to be done. With this smart notification system, you can ensure that pest control tasks are consistently done every day.

Using our digital Food Safety Management System, you can address the root causes of food safety issues and efficiently operate your business. Switching to our digital platform only requires 15 minutes of your time, and you can get all the mentioned benefits.

Use our digital solutions to address pest issues and stay compliant throughout your food operations.

Experience both our digital HACCP plan builder and digital FSMS software features with our free 14-day trial now.



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