Food businesses must take all reasonable precautions to prevent food pests, namely rats, mice, cockroaches, beetles, ants and flying insects gaining entry into food storage and preparation areas. This is to prevent the contamination of foodstuffs.
What to do if you have a pest infestation
If you think you have a pest problem call us for more advice.
Pest infestation cost businesses money, it is your responsibility to deal with pests effectively. We recommended that food business operators set up a contract with a reputable pest control company.
Most common pests encountered in food businesses are rodents - rats and mice, insects - cockroaches, ants, beetles and flies, birds - pigeons, seagulls
You should regularly check for signs of rodents. It only takes a matter of days for an infestation to get out of hand. Signs to look for if you have rodents if your business
- Rodent droppings (black torpedo shaped objects about 1-4mm in length) on the floor, shelves and other surfaces.
- Gnawed food packaging.
- Greasy smear marks along the bottom of walls/floor junction.
- Rodents themselves either dead or alive!
Keeping rodents out of your business
Measures must be taken to ensure that pests cannot enter the premises. All gaps in the premises structure should be sealed using a hard, gnaw resistant material like cement, mortar, hard filler, brush strips and fine gauge wire mesh.
Mice and rats will eat food debris from the floor and from bins that are not sealed. One mouse only has to eat the equivalent of one pea per day to survive.
It is particularly important to ensure that food debris does not build up under and behind equipment. It is these dark, hard to see places that rats and mice prefer, so keep them debris free. Employ a 'clean as you go' policy so that if spillages occur whilst preparing food, they are cleaned up immediately.
Ensure that all food is covered when not in use and kept off the floor to discourage rodents from eating them.
Cockroaches can survive for a long time on just water, so reducing access to liquid is essential in controlling cockroach populations.
To help prevent cockroaches living in your food business:
- Reduce water availability - fix any leaks and sweating pipes and mop up spillages, empty fridge overflow containers every day provide ventilation to moist areas, and never leave washing up soaking overnight.
- Reduce potential hiding places - remove general clutter and all equipment and furniture you do not use; fix loose wallpaper, broken tiles, fill in holes, cracks or crevices must be blocked or sealed shut.
- Vacuuming regularly, especially in hard to reach areas can suck up cockroaches, their eggs and the material they feed on.
Some flies carry disease and can contaminate food. It is very common for flies to enter your business especially during the summer but you can take certain action to prevent them entering and contaminating food.
- Keep all doors and windows closed or put up fly screens and mesh to prevent them getting into your business.
- Wash all kitchen work tops and chopping boards before they are to be used and at regular intervals throughout the working day.
- Do not allow fruit or vegetables to over ripen or decay as this will attract flies. Do not leave food uncovered - always defrost food in the fridge.
- Ensure all food waste bags are tied up and are placed into bins with lids closed.
- Ensure that all drains and gullies are free from food waste by washing them and cleaning them at the end of the day.
Feral pigeons can cause nuisance with their droppings which can cause stairways, balconies and pavements to become slippery especially in wet weather. Pigeons are also known to carry many diseases and must be kept out of your business.
Pigeons enter buildings to get food, to build nests or simply for shelter. To stop pigeons getting into your business, do not have any gaps or holes bigger than 20mm in diameter.
Simple measures to help minimise the problems that pigeons can cause:
- do not leave food out for birds or other wildlife
- block gaps and ledges on which pigeons can perch or hop through. Pigeon proofing includes simple tasks like sealing gaps under eaves and having missing roof tiles replaced
- regularly destroy nesting materials and eggs when found
- regularly disturb the pigeons by shooing them off their perches
- be persistent.
None of these measures is likely to be 100% effective - they will, however help to limit the worst effects of the problem.
To view a copy of the regulations please click on the relevant download below
- Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 Hygiene of foodstuffs (Annex II Chapter IX para 4)
- The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006
Food and safety team
Food and safety team
6th Floor, Zone A
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon CR0 1EA
- Regulation (EC) 852/2004 [343.6KB]
- The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 [906.2KB]