How to Help Keep Pests Out of Grocery Stores
Some of the very things that attract customers to your grocery store – fresh produce, premium meat, stored products, pretty flowers, sweet drinks, delicious deli items -- can also attract pests.
With food and moisture in abundance, plus scores of people going in and out each day, it can be challenging to make sure that only customers are scurrying up and down your aisles. Cockroaches, flies, rodents, stored product pests and even birds are some of the pests that can be nuisances for places where food is sold.
Most grocery stores and supermarkets are large spaces with a lot of square footage to police, so pest prevention can seem like an intimidating task at first. Knowing what to do and where to start can help break down the steps into manageable pieces. Here are some supermarket best practices that can help keep pests away from your store:
- Store all food products off the floor on shelves or in display cases.
- Inspect deliveries carefully for signs of pests, such as holes and tears in packaging, as well as for actual pests.
- Break down cardboard and wood boxes from deliveries as soon as they’re unloaded and discard them away from the building.
- Have a regular cleaning schedule and list for food bars, self-serve containers, delis, dining, break room areas and bathrooms to ensure appropriate cleaning frequency and that no areas are missed during normal cleaning routines. Food crumbs and spills should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned from counters, tables, chairs and floors as pests can be drawn to even tiny food crumbs and water specks.
- When cleaning and mopping, pay special attention to the corners of counters and floors, as well as cracks and crevices that can retain food particles.
- Avoid leaving unsealed food out, especially fruit, which can attract flies.
- Check food containers for cracks, damage and loose seals to avoid leaks.
- Empty trash at least once a day and place outside trash receptacles away from the building, if possible. Keep all receptacles tightly covered.
- In food preparation areas, keep dishes, cooking pans and utensils washed and dried when not in use.
- Clean up grease spills thoroughly. Grease stains, which can be tempting to many species of pests, can be stubborn and difficult to remove.
- Keep doors closed and check door seals, weather stripping and sweeps for cracks in addition to wear and tear.
- Inspect pipes, drains, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and drink dispensers for leaks that can attract pests seeking moisture. Have any faulty pipes or drains fixed by a professional.
- Ensure that pipes and drains have appropriate screens covering them and that they are clean of food debris
- Have the grass cut and vegetation trimmed away from the building
- Educate store staff about the signs of pest activity and how to address conducive conditions that can attract these pests. Have procedures in place for notifying management immediately if pest activity or signs of pests are seen.
Stored Product Pests
It’s also very important to know about stored product pests and the special challenges they pose for food industry businesses.
Common stored product pests include moths, weevils and many other types of beetles. They can attack many different types of food, including processed and whole grains such as wheat, corn, barley, rice, beans, cereals and nuts. These insects can breed and build vast populations quickly.
In addition to the actual pests, stored product pests often leave behind eggs, larvae and pupae in and around food products. These pests often have widespread infestations with more than one source, which is one reason why they can be difficult to treat.
It’s also common for eggs, larvae or other life stages of these insects to be in some products before they come into the store. So it’s very important to inspect and rotate items like pet food and other grain-based items. Infested items should be removed from the store immediately.
How Terminix Commercial Can Help
Even if you take precautionary measures, persistent pests may still find their way into your store. Having a professional partner that understands pest control best practices for grocery stores and supermarkets is the best solution for keeping pests at bay. Doing so can also help you avoid health violations, fines and potential operational disruptions that pest activity may cause.
Terminix® Commercial knows the special requirements of treating grocery stores and supermarkets, and has thorough knowledge of industry-specific health code violations. With a professional pest control plan, you can help pests check out of your store and take their business elsewhere.