Pest control in supermarkets
We depend on supermarkets unlike any other type of shop. The vast amounts of food they store on the premises and the number of deliveries they receive each day mean that pests can be a real problem for them. Pest control in supermarkets is even more important for smaller convenience shops that are particularly vulnerable because of the low turnover of some of their products. And it is often not acceptable for the business owner to carry out his own pest control. Here are the main issues we often come across.
The main pests covered by pest control in supermarkets
Usually, any insects or animals found inside a supermarket will be considered a potential pest. In food premises, the requirement for food safety is such that every effort should be made to ensure public safety. However, there are always the main corporates that we list below.
Rats and mice wreak havoc in a number of ways. They gnaw at every opportunity they can get, causing structural damage to walls and floorboards. They may accidentally chew through wiring, too, damaging electronics behind walls, which can be expensive to fix, and damaging machinery used on the shop floor.
But the most frequent issue we come across when carrying out pest control in supermarkets is damage to food packagings. They may chew through the packaging and contaminate the food it contains. But an aspect that many of our clients do not consider is the contamination of the packaging that the customers will later handle when doing their shopping.
To elaborate, we had a hard time with a convenience shop in Streatham we had to deal with upon request of the freeholder. The shopkeepers were very defensive, as we had been thrown upon them. When we first started, they were very dismissive of how bad it was. But we found strong smear marks on the bags of rice kept at the back, as well as droppings everywhere on the shelves underneath the goods.
We sadly had to argue for the need to empty every shelf, one at a time, starting from the top. Then sanitise the shelves, discard all damaged packaging regardless of the cost, and sanitise as well any other undamaged items, whatever they may be. But on the follow-ups, what we found is very high mice activity that tended to disregard our bait, and the same damaged goods featuring a smear mark on top that had not been disposed of. It is only once the cleaning and sorting out got underway that mice started to eat our mice poison.
To any owner or shopkeeper, I would say that the technicians in charge of pest control in supermarkets are here to help, whatever the situation is. Mice urinate almost constantly, so they literally leave a trail of bacteria in their path. Rodents are known to spread many diseases, too, including Salmonellosis and Lyme disease, both of which can be fatal. Pest control and housekeeping need to work in concert, and keeping stocks secure is the single most important task.
Cockroaches are another difficult pest for supermarkets. They’re constantly secreting bodily fluids and droppings, which contaminates food products, leave stains wherever they walk and have a strong, noxious odour. Cockroaches are known to spread a number of disease-causing bacteria, including salmonella and e. coli. They have also been known to trigger asthma attacks in people, especially children and those with allergies.
Above all this, cockroaches are incredibly resilient. They can survive in incredibly harsh conditions, and they reproduce at an alarming rate, so taking care of just some of the cockroaches isn’t enough. Pretty soon you’ll have a full-blown infestation on your hands again. You need a professional pest controller to eradicate the entire infestation. In such instances, pest control in supermarkets can be carried out after hours if fumigation is ever needed. But we find that relying on gel technology is more effective and can be done discreetly without the need of closing and keeping the staff and customers away.
Fruit flies are particularly troublesome for fresh fruit and vegetables. Being able to fly means they can very quickly contaminate a large area. They also breed incredibly quickly, so if a few flies enter a supermarket, it won’t be long before there are many, many flies. Flies often develop on overripe fresh produce. But they can also feed on and often live around unclean, bacteria-filled items, such as waste bins. As such, the risk of contamination is extremely high, and flies defecate whilst they eat, so any foodstuff they manage to get access to may become unsafe for human consumption. Fresh food that’s not stored within sealed packaging or in cold rooms is particularly at risk. If left unmanaged for too long, flies’ activity may become endemic and require the supermarket to get a pest control contract that is more exhaustive.
Ants themselves do not carry diseases, making them less of a direct threat to our health. However, they may still contaminate food products through cross-contamination, especially meat, fresh fruit, and vegetables, by walking over them after walking on unclean/affected surfaces. They’re very opportunistic, often only going where they can find food. They’re also very adaptable, and ant colonies often have thousands of individual ants in them. Given these numbers, they’re often very easy to spot and can be really off-putting for customers (and staff members). Ant infestations tend to be limited and seasonal, unless they are tropical ants, in which case it can become a year-round problem.
Pest control in supermarkets does not usually include birds in the contract. However, birds, especially pigeons, pose a significant threat to supermarkets. Unlike most other pests, they won’t necessarily enter the premises, but they will cause damage to the exterior and can soil the customer entrance areas. Bird nests often block air vents, which can damage them, requiring the supermarket to pay for expensive repairs. Large numbers of birds can also cause damage to the roof, breaking tiles, gutters, and other features.
Additionally, bird droppings can pose a health risk to the public, staff, and delivery workers. If the congregation of birds is large enough, then droppings will appear almost constantly. Bird droppings carry as many as 60 different diseases and are a huge eyesore. As well as this, the acid in bird droppings can corrode softer stone, causing long-lasting structural damage to the building (most commonly the roof). They’re an expensive and difficult pest to deal with, and professional pest controllers should always be called in such circumstances.
Measures having a positive impact on pest control in supermarkets
Check for entry points
Pests can fit through the smallest of gaps, so check for any cracks in the walls or gaps in skirting boards. What may just seem like a slight crack may actually be an access point for bugs, such as ants and cockroaches. Be sure to look behind shelving, cupboards, and fridges. Also, it may seem obvious, but ensure that all doors are closed when they aren’t in use. Of course, the main entrance to a supermarket is virtually always open when the store is, but every other door should be firmly closed unless in use. Leaving the doors open is like an invitation for pests.
Every delivery a supermarket receives must be thoroughly checked for pests. Failing to do so runs the risk of staff unknowingly transporting pests into the store. Pests can often be found hiding amongst fresh produce, even when it appears to be tightly packaged. Additionally, any food packages that are opened pose an even more significant threat. Not only may they be harbouring pests, but any spillages will attract even more pests to the area. Make sure you know what’s entering your store to prevent any surprise visitors.
Maintain a good cleaning regime
Spillages and crumbs should be cleaned up immediately, both on the shop floor and in staff areas. A few crumbs can attract a few pests, and a few pests quickly become many pests, then before you know it, you have a full infestation on your hands. Sweep up, mop floors, and vacuum as regularly as possible.
Be sure to dispose of rubbish promptly too, and try not to have it on/near the premises for too long. The longer waste sits around, the more it attracts pests.
Rely on experts only to carry out pest control in supermarkets
The final, and arguably most important tip, is to call a pest control expert as soon as you see signs of pests. As we’ve said, seeing one mouse or cockroach indicates that there are many more lurking out of sight. Don’t be complacent, or you’ll end up with a health and safety nightmare on your hands, and your supermarket may even be forced to close for a period of time. Be proactive and call a pest controller immediately. We’ll quickly assess the situation, deal with the infestation, and put proofing measures in place to ensure that the pests don’t return any time soon.
Here at Inoculand, we have experience dealing with everything from small residential flats to huge office blocks and more. Get in touch with us to find out how we can solve your supermarket’s pest problem, or better yet, help to prevent one from occurring.