Why are food premises being prosecuted for pest infestations?
Once again I read an article about pest control failures in a food premises. This time it is a rat infestation at the Royal Wells Hotel in Tunbridge Wells whose owners Shepherd Neame were fined £160,000.
In my experience rat infestations of food premises are quite rare. I am however regularly auditing food premises where mice infestations have gone out of control. You know things are bad when the business is shut down due to mice.
I usually see rat problems when the food premises are either next to a river, or the bin area outside the kitchen doors is overflowing and/or the lids are damaged or missing allowing access to rodents.
Correct pest proofing is so important with these food premises; this should be one of the first areas the catering manager needs to be addressing when managing pest control. I would have been very interested to see the pest control contractor’s reports prior to the Environmental Health Officer shutting the hotel down. Surely the pest control contractors would have spotted pest proofing issues?
I can’t stress the amount of times I audit a food premise and find massive gaps under the front and rear doors and holes going in to ceiling voids. This is normally accompanied by poor cleaning practices in the kitchen with food debris on the floor. These premises are just asking for trouble.
In my experience pest control contractors are in such a rush to get to the next job that they miss so much. Catering managers these days don’t have the training or experience in most cases to spot pest control issues before it is too late. They rely too heavily on their own contractors to deal with it.
Going forward I feel its about time that more pest control training is included as part of the food hygiene courses to help catering staff identify issues before they get out of control. This will help them report problems to the pest control contractors to deal with. Once again this all comes down to training and not working together as a team.
Suitable and sufficient staff training, backed up with competent independent auditors will help avoid expensive costs going forward.
If you are concerned about pest control in your premises, why not contact Assurity Consulting for a Food Safety Audit where we can help identify any problems and offer expert solutions.