By Dr. Alice Sinia
There are many factors that make a restaurant a success. The obvious include good food, service, location and reputation, but there are other factors that aren’t as evident. Take pest control, for example. It might not be top of mind, but failing to establish an effective pest management program can lead to pest infestations which can hurt your reputation, cause food poisoning, fines and down time from failed inspections and can even close your establishment. Protecting your business from pests begins with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.
IPM is the most effective and environmentally-responsible approach to pest management because it concentrates on continuous prevention of pests based on pest behaviour and habitat. Working with a pest management professional to develop and implement strategies that help reduce pests’ access to their three survival factors – food, water and shelter – in your restaurant will not only protect your reputation and the quality of your product, but will also keep the company prepared for important inspections and audits. Additionally, IPM not only focuses on proactive facility maintenance and sanitation measures but also employee knowledge and training on pressure pests.
The following are tips to keep your staff on board with your IPM program.
Maintain open communication
Imagine a kitchen where staff didn’t communicate during peak dinner service – probably a recipe for disaster. The same goes for pest management. Open and ongoing appropriate conversations on pest sightings and concerns will help make your employees aware of your pest management plan, makes them comfortable discussing it and it also makes them part of the solution. This open dialogue includes keeping employees in the loop about proactive pest management initiatives, their roles, cooperation and even providing notice to employees of upcoming service visits.
Host a staff training session
In addition to open communication, it is also important to train staff on what to know when it comes to pest pressures. Consider training on the specifics of pest pressures your restaurant faces (what do the pests look like? how do they get in? what causes them to establish) as well as their habourage spots, reproduction potentials and ways to prevent and eliminate them. Most reputable pest management providers offer complimentary staff training, so ask your pest management professional to conduct an on-site training session for you and your team.
Provide educational materials
Your pest management professional can discuss the basics of IPM, as well as educate your team on conducive conditions and the pest pressures that are specific to your facility. Conducive conditions are environments within or around your establishment that are favourable for pest activity, such as moist areas due to water leaks or poor ventilation, decaying organic materials in floor drains, sinks or dishwashers and food spills and improper garbage and recycling material disposal. Pest “hot spots” are the key areas inside and outside your building that pests target as entry or harborage points such as cracks and crevices, gaps around or under exterior exit doors and leaving or storing dry foods in open areas. Your pest management professional can also provide educational materials to share with your employees, such as tip sheets and checklists to help with sanitation and maintenance.
Assigning roles and responsibilities to staff members involved in cleaning and maintenance is crucial to the success of your pest management program. Be sure to align their pest management responsibilities with their current daily duties. For example, the team member who oversees sanitation should be in charge of cleaning any spills in and around the establishment that could attract pests. The staff member who works on exterior maintenance should be responsible for sealing and caulking any holes or gaps in the building façade that pests could use to enter the building. It is important to instill in staff the sense of responsibility. Pest control is team work; everybody plays a role. A service technician is on site maybe once a week or a month; but the staff are there at least five times a week, therefore, they should be the extra eyes and ears for the pest control service technician.
Establish a pest-sighting protocol
Establish and maintain a pest-sighting protocol that will help protect your bottom-line. Even the most stringent pest management programs run the risk of pests finding their way inside. Your employees need to know who they should notify in the event of a pest issue.
By establishing a protocol, you will help proactively prevent pests and guarantee that everyone knows how to communicate pest activity to you, as well as your pest management professional.
A well-run kitchen doesn’t happen by accident. The same goes for a pest-free kitchen. It starts with a strong pest management partnership, and when combined with open communication and staff training, you’ll have the recipe for success.
About the author:
Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is the resident entomologist – regulatory/lab services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 10 years of experience, she manages the quality assurance laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email Alice Sinia at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orkincanada.com.