In 2015, 137 food and beverage outlets in Singapore were suspended and over 50 percent of the outlets were closed because of pest related problems. In February 2013, NEA (National Environment Agency of Singapore) enacted a regulation that made it compulsory for restaurants to use the services of certified pest management operators in pest control. Put differently, it is mandatory for all restaurants in Singapore to use licensed pest control services.
Based on the opinion of a pest control expert with over 30 years experience, the most common pest that make restaurants to be suspended include houseflies, cockroaches and rats. The aforementioned pests spread diseases and restaurants should be kept free from these pests not only for the sake of retaining a license, but also for the sake of customers.
The Potential Consequences of Pests in Restaurants
• Suspension of the business by public health and regulatory authorities such as NEA.
• Bad reputation and customer trust.
• Reduced sales and profit because of loss of customers.
• Financial loss caused by customer claim for compensation.
• Financial loss because of fines from regulatory authorities.
• Financial loss incurred when replacing damaged products.
Pest Control Procedures for Restaurants
1. Know The Types Of Pests
Singapore is infested with two types of cockroaches and they include the American cockroach and the German cockroach. The American cockroach is big and found in drains, while the German cockroach is smaller and common in restaurants. The German cockroach is nocturnal, and can be found in warm moist places.
Once the hiding spots for cockroach is found, extermination can proceed immediately. Some of the common signs of cockroach infestation include:
• Spotting cockroach egg cases.
• Foul smell.
• Spotting cockroach droppings and dead cockroaches.
• Seeing cockroaches in the restaurant.
To spot the signs outlined above, restaurant staff should check the gaps between the door frames, wire conduits, table surface, broken wall tiles, and cardboard boxes.
Other places cockroaches are likely to hide include cracks and crevices, spaces within equipment, drawers, drink dispensers, cash register, and steam baskets found in dimsum restaurants.
In restaurants, houseflies are attracted to food residue, and they can be eliminated once pest control services identify their source. The telltale signs that a restaurant is infested with flies include:
• Live sighting of flies.
• Seeing maggots and its foul smell.
• Spotting dead flies.
In most cases, houseflies have an external breeding site, and can transmit diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli. Houseflies are attracted to fermenting sugary foods, which they need for feeding and breeding. In restaurants, flies can be spotted in garbage containers, old drink bottles, in drains, over-ripe fruit and certain vegetable, and in the cracks on wet floors.
Food debris is the major cause of rat infestation in restaurants. Rats can enter the premises through open kitchen doors, drains and pipes. Rats are nocturnal creatures and they can enter and leave the restaurant as they wish. However, rodent control has remained a challenge to most restaurant owners in Singapore because NEA has prohibited the use of poison baits. The signs of a rat manifestation include:
• Smear marks.
• Gnaw marks.
• Torn food packaging.
• Urine marks visible under UV light.
• Seeing rats and dead bodies.
• Odorous smell and burrows.
Rats have a bad eyesight and are likely to leave a trail because they lean on the walls when they move. Rat trails are in the form of smear marks of oil and dirt on their bodies. Tracing the smear mark can assist restaurant staff in knowing the route the rats use to access the restaurant.
2. Use The Services Of A Certified Pest Control Expert
Maintaining good hygiene is the surest way of preventing cockroach infestation. However, if an infestation occurs, a number of treatments to control the cockroaches are available. The most common cockroach treatment includes aerosols, sprays, bait and dust. In restaurants, NEA must permit the insecticide used, and competent, trained personnel should carry out the procedure.
Flies can be controlled by maintaining standard hygiene that will eliminate the stench that attracts flies, the material they feed on, and breeding sites. The standard hygiene practices that will keep the flies out include:
• Ensuring that supplies are fresh.
• Cleaning food preparation areas and equipment.
• Disposing garbage regularly.
• Cleaning garbage containers.
• Cleaning drains and preventing the accumulation of organic matter.
The elimination of flies in restaurants can also be achieved through design and facility maintenance. Some of the measures restaurant can undertake in implementing this procedure include:
• Placing screens on windows and vents.
• Proper door design, for example, using automatic doors.
• Pheromone traps and UV light traps can be used in trapping flies in order to prevent further breeding.
The key to controlling rats entails the elimination of places that harbor them in and outside the building to prevent them from accessing shelter, water and food.
Sealing potential points of entry such as doorways, drains, pipes, vents, cracks, windows, and screens can go a long way in preventing rats from accessing the premises. As mentioned earlier, NEA prohibits the use of poison in controlling rats in restaurants, and this method cannot be used in Singapore.
3. Engage A Certified Pest Control Company in Systematic Pest Management
• Professional pest control operators assist restaurants in pest management by coming up with pest control measures suitable for the infrastructure in order to seal entry points and eliminate places that harbor pests.
• Exterminators provide advice on pest control and implement pest control measures.
• Professionals also advice on inspection procedure and the approach of monitoring pests within the restaurant.
4. The Common Mistakes Restaurants Make In Pest Control
• Failing to wash cloths properly using sanitizers. In some cases, clean tables still attract flies because the cloth used to wipe the table was not cleaned properly and carried food residue.
• Failing to wipe chairs thoroughly. Houseflies can sometimes be spotted in restaurants around the chairs because the customers touched the chair, and left food residue on it.
• The perception that not seeing rats implies that they are completely absent. Rats may be hiding in a covered drain, and when there is rain, they may come out.
• Failing to wash the kitchen floor thoroughly. When washing kitchen floors, the focus should not only be on exposed floors because food debris is hidden under the tables used to prepare food.