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Food safety pests – Buzz off insects! HACCP prerequisite #foodsafety

insects on the menuInsects might be on the menu at certain ‘avant garde’ restaurants. Indeed, there are now insect farms breeding crickets etc. as an alternative to meat protein. However, if they’re not an intentional ingredient in your products, you need to take all steps to eliminate them from your premises. In fact, food safety pest control is a prerequisite for any HACCP plan and essential for food safety.

An effective food safety programme relies on being able to produce food that is safe for human consumption. It is imperative that any form of contamination is identified and controlled. Anyone who has been on our Level 3 Food Safety course will know how to do this.

Flies are a danger to food safety

Amongst the most common pests are flies. Filth flies (which include drain flies, house flies and flesh flies) can carry over 100 pathogens that can cause disease in humans. These include Salmonella, cholera, Shigella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, parasitic worms and fungi. All are a huge threat to food safety.

Other types of fly include Blowflies, fruit flies, houseflies and moth flies. The fact that flies can fly makes them difficult to contain. They can go from area to area depositing filth on to food. They don’t care whether they feast on faecal matter, decaying and rotten food, animal carcasses or on fresh and stored food and ingredients. They’ll just flit happily between them all.

flies are food safety hazardsHow flies feed

The way flies feed is pretty revolting and a hazard as far as food safety is concerned. They break down solid food by depositing saliva onto it and regurgitate juices containing digestive enzymes. This process turns the food to liquid which they then suck up. Normally they will defecate at the same time. Nice!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just one or two flies that have got in to your premises. Flies breed quickly. As well as areas where food and ingredients are present, they will also find other homes. Favourite place are bins, drains, floor traps (where they feed on the slime that accumulates) and cracked damp flooring.

How to keep flies out

Keeping flies out of food manufacturing, storage and preparation areas can be a real challenge. Obviously, cleanliness is of paramount importance to ensure food safety. Here are a number of steps you can take to keep them away:

overflowing garage attracts pests

Don’t leave garbage containers overflowing like this one. Lids should be shut at all times.

  • Check supplies on delivery to ensure they’re not rotting
  • Ensure they’re not stored in a rotting state
  • Clean and inspect food preparation areas regularly
  • In particular check cracks, crevices and hidden spaces where liquid and food traces could accumulate
  • Dispose of garbage regularly – more frequently in hot weather
  • Make sure garbage container lids are shut at all times – this will also keep other pests out
  • Garbage containers and other equipment used to handle garbage should be kept clean
  • Keep drains free from accumulating organic matter and use an appropriate cleaner

cracks in building fabric attract flies food safetyPremises design and maintenance assist food safety

Food safety is about so much more than the actual preparation of the food. Other factors come into play including the design and maintenance of the building. This can help to prevent the entry of flies and other insects.

  • Use well-maintained screens on windows and vents
  • Use UV light traps or pheromone traps
  • Keep doors shut when not in use
  • Keep the premises well-maintained to avoid cracks or gaps appearing in the building’s fabric
  • Use appropriate doors for the purpose, e.g. vinyl strip, automatic, roll-up, air curtains etc.

Exterminate! Exterminate!

Pesticides should be used as a last resort. Only those suitable for use in food premises should be acquired. They should also only be applied by a qualified pest controller.

You can learn more about a variety of pests on our Level 3 Food Safety course. You’ll also discover how to control them as well as various other elements that can affect food safety. Click here for details of the next course.