Pest infestations are the most common reason for statutory closures of food businesses in the UK because they are a major food safety hazard. They can easily spread food poisoning organisms and other harmful disease by direct contact with their bodies, faecal matter or urine. Failures to control pests have resulted in significant fines for food businesses. Recent fines include: £105k for a pub in Birmingham, £500k for a health food store in Knightsbridge, London and £644K for a supermarket in Park Royal, London.
There are many methods to control pests. Physical and chemical methods are focused on the eradication of pests, but may not be effective. Resistance to chronic pesticides is a problem in some areas, especially the South of England. The most effective method is environmental controls that deny pests access and harbourage.
Denying access to pests can be achieved in many ways. Correct proofing of building will deny access and harbourage. Rodents can easily pass through small gaps (e.g. 6mm x 9.5mm) to gain access to a food premises. To prevent access doors should be close-fitted, self-closing and fitted with metal kick plates and bristle strips. External ventilation openings and foul water pipes are potential points of entry for rodents and insects. Ventilation grids, air bricks and openable windows must proofed appropriately. Foul water pipes is another entry point for rodents. Appropriate controls include installing a flap device that only permits the flow of foul water outwards, maintaining water seals in toilets pans and sealing disused drains. Rodent are good climbers, so appropriate guards must fitted to external pipes and walls. Insects can gain access to the premises during receipt of deliveries via contaminated raw materials. Thorough visual inspections should be made before accepting a delivery.
Pest will inevitable gain access to a food premises at some time. So it is important to deny pests sources of food, water and harbourage. Regularly house-keeping is an easy and cost effective preventative measure. Simple measures include cleaning to remove debris, food matter and sources of water. Cleaning schedules should also include external areas for where rubbish is stored. Pest prefer undisturbed areas in the food premises. Frequent visual inspections, moving equipment and rotation of stock will deny pests harbourage. Food should kept in pest proof containers stored above the floor and away from walls at a distance of 500mm. The food rooms should be ventilated and dry as high humidity is the perfect environment for Psocids to thrive.
An integrated pest management approach will support a pest free environment. Food handlers should be trained in how to prevent pest infestations, spot the signs of pests and what to do if they is a pest problem.
Pest control is a topic discussed on all our food safety and HACCP courses at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4. Percipio Training competent tutors equip food handlers with practical knowledge to reduce the risk of a pest infestation. We run open courses in food safety and HACCP in Birmingham, Milton Keynes and London. Alternatively, we deliver a course onsite at your premises at a very competitive price anywhere in the UK. Locations including Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey Northamptonshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
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