Between April 2017 and April of this year, Oxford City Council handed out hundreds (661 to be exact!) of written warnings after routine food hygiene inspections. The businesses inspected were mostly restaurants, but all businesses that handle food have a public responsibility to uphold an established level of hygiene on-site. This includes hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and, in some cases, even corner shops.
‘Food retail businesses, and especially businesses where food is produced on site, are more vulnerable than other businesses. There are more risk factors and - of course - high expectations from the public,’ explains Mike Humbles, the head of pest control services at Oxford Direct Services.
Written warnings can be given for a number of reasons, including mishandling of cooked or raw foods, accumulation of grease or dirt and inadequate washing facilities. While it might seem like these are small infractions, any one of these - and certainly a combination of several - could lead to a serious pest problem.
‘We’re not just talking about rodents like rats, it’s insects like cockroaches and flies, too,’ Mike added.
The thought of rats, cockroaches and flies mixing and mingling with food is enough to make anyone lose their appetite and, for business owners, the presence of these pests could put both staff and customers at risk, result in fines and could result in the business being shut down.
To avoid pests, Mike says that business owners and managers must ensure that:
- Surfaces and equipment are always wiped down properly
- Anyone handling food has the proper training and certifications
- Employees always wash their hands before and after handling food and after using the toilet
- Food is stored properly
- Refrigeration and air conditioning systems are maintained to control temperatures of stored food
- Rubbish is properly disposed of
- The building is proofed to prevent pests from getting in
- Any issues with the integrity of the building are resolved
- Regular, routine visits are scheduled with a local pest control service provider
As they say, prevention is better than cure and this is certainly the case when it comes to pest control. Mike recommends that the average restaurant schedule visits every 4-6 weeks.
During a routine visit, a member of the pest control team will first see if you believe you have a pest problem. If so, they’ll look for signs like droppings and damage and for possible routes of entry and exit.
‘It’s quite involved and we really do take a forensic approach,’ Mike said.
They’ll also make notes of any areas where standards of hygiene fallen and, even if you don’t believe you have a pest problem, a member of the pest control team will still carefully survey the building.
For businesses that have a history or hygiene infractions or pest problems, Mike recommends regular, monthly visits.
To find out more about how you can maintain hygiene standards and avoid pests or to book a visit, get in touch with us today!