How To Make Sure your Business Doesn't Get Noticed for the Wrong Reasons

With the hygiene standards and food safety of food outlets gaining attention following some high profile cases, QSR spoke with Michael Coates and Des Fraser, Founders of Combat Pest Control, about what businesses can do to make sure they don’t get noticed for the wrong reasons.

QSR: What are businesses required to do with regards to pest control?

Broadly speaking, requirements depend on the size and type of business. But ultimately in any food handling premises its unacceptable to have any pest. Specifically, businesses need to:

1) Eradicate the pest

2) Stop the spread of pathogens or disease to customers

3) Stop the contamination of food stuffs and work surfaces

4) Prevent damage to premises

5) Uphold the business’ reputation and maintain staff morale

6) Prevent prosecution and closure

QSR: What should be included in effective pest control procedures?

Good pest management procedures include:

1) A system to record the time, date and location of any animal droppings

2) A complete history of the site to allow an overview of any issues to be built up

3) A good understanding of the site layout, construction materials used together with detail of the food processes being undertaken on site

4) The hygiene practices being used by the business

5) Understanding the implications of the neighbour’s properties. This might not sound intuitive but we have seen examples where the unsafe practices of neighbouring businesses have resulted in pest outbreaks at our client premises.

6) Protecting non-target species. Not only do the pests need to be eradicated, but this needs to be done without harming other wildlife

7) Preventing pests and reducing the likelihood to them returning

Ultimately how much help a business need will depend on its size.

QSR: Have there more cases of pest control issues at food outlets recently? 

I couldn’t say that there have been more cases per se, but certainly pest numbers are on the increase, with 3% year-on-year growth in London. What we have seen though is some pretty large fines for breaches of hygiene and safety standards. For example one of the largest supermarket chains in the country was fined £660,000 for mouse droppings, and a small bakery in Birmingham was fined £70,000 for a mouse infestation. This tells us that the authorities are enforcing food safety and hygiene regulations vigorously- regardless of the size of the business.

Furthermore, as a business, when it comes to pests, prevention is better than cure because when the authorities are aware of a food safety breach, it is far more likely that they will continue to inspect and check up on your sites.

Additionally, we know that approximately 75% of SMEs who close, even temporarily, as a result of a breach of hygiene standards, don’t recover. So the damage is real and immediate.

QSR: What could happen if no pest management procedures are implemented?

The consequences can be significant. To start with disease and pathogens can spread resulting in food poisoning for customers. This, as I’ve said, can prove painful for a customer and deadly for a business, as it spreads via social media and draws the attention of the authorities.

While this is quite an extreme outcome, I think that people don’t necessarily focus on the other damage pests can do, such as the damage rodents can cause via gnawing through cables and walls.

QSR: Could you give us an example of best practice with regards to pest management in food premises? 

Ideally, businesses should provide a full risk assessment to show local authorities that they’ve done full due diligence on their business’ risks. This risk assessment and pack should include site maps, showing where monitoring is taking place, together with how, and which pests are monitored. The assessment also needs to cover the procedures that are undertaken once any pest is found.

Once this is done it’s also important to document the inspections a business is doing of its facilities, which include details any pest sightings and actions taken.

Who are Combat Pest Control?

Combat Pest Control are unique in the pest control world. All ex-military personnel, we are fully qualified, insured and have years of experience in the field.

We are the only pest control company worldwide who has signed the buy-one give-one initiative, which helps kids in conflict, from every job we do.

We’ve also signed the armed forces covenant, and have also recently been nominated for the Ministry of Defence Employee Recognition Gold Scheme Award due to our long-term commitment to hiring ex-servicemen, and our goal to provide employment to people who have been injured through conflict.

We offer a very tailored service, keeping a named technician on every job so clients know who they are dealing with and can be certain of follow through.

How can we help?

We can provide best practice for pest control services. We want to work with our customers to find out exactly what they need be it method statements, best practices, to a full-service package.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSRMedia UK. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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