Pests in a retail food store pose a risk not only for management and the store’s brand but, more importantly, for consumers who shop there.
Cockroaches, rodents and flies, can transmit food-borne illness-causing bacteria, and health inspectors will quickly shut down retail food facilities if they spot any of these pests.
How does your retail food facility – whether it is a 1,000 sq. ft. grab-and-go convenience store or a 70,000 sq. ft. grocery store with bakery, coffee bar and large production kitchen – measure up when it comes to having an effective pest management in place?
Earlier this year Sprague Pest Solutions attended the Global Summit for Pest Management Services, a meeting dedicated to discussing current trends in commercial pest management, with a panel of high-profile food retailers who discussed the challenges of keeping their facilities pest-free.
Sprague has extensive experience creating innovative pest management programs for retail food facilities – big and small – across the Pacific Northwest and Mountain region. We wanted to share some insights from this session as we can continue to partner with our clients on designing and implementing customized solutions for their pest and food safety programs.
A representative from Wawa, the Pennsylvania-based chain of fuel and convenience stores with 750 stores across the Mid-Atlantic region and Florida, list what their company expects from its pest management program:
- Make sure communication is consistent and transparent up and down corporate ladder.
- Get the job done correctly the first time. Let the facility manager know if it will take longer than one visit to solve the problem.
- Detail what corrective action needs to be taken, and determine what is working and what isn’t.
- Contribute to the company’s SOPs (standard operating procedures) that will lead to continuous improvement.
With an aggressive growth strategy – the chain plans on opening 50 stores in 2017 – and strong foot traffic in stores (the typical store serves thousands of customers weekly), developing and effectively delivering effective pest programs in multiple facilities can be a challenge.
For example, the doors of a grab-and-go store are opened and closed constantly so flying (and crawling) insect access is higher. Food preparation is also done on-site, attracting a variety of pests to the food storage areas. Waste produced needs an established sanitation protocol for each location.
To illustrate the critical need for effective sanitation programs – sanitation tops the list of why pests target commercial food facilities - the Wawa representative cited an issue one of its Philadelphia-area stores encountered with fruit flies near the coffee serving area.
Consultation and inspection by their pest management provider, exposed that during construction drain covers were left open, providing flies with easy access to the waste matter inside the drain.
Pest issues can be prevented through better sanitation protocols, employee education and construction practices. Installing air doors, using stainless steel vs. wood to allow for easier cleaning, airflow management, exterior lighting placement – these are all important elements to any retail food facility’s pest management program.