Bakers Journal

Bugs Away

December 4, 2007
By Zia Siddiqi Ph.D. BCE

The key to effective pest prevention is sanitation.

12It’s almost spring, which means that peak pest season is just around the corner.

Before it arrives, bakeries across Canada – from the most massive plant to the corner retailer – should take a close look at their sanitation programs. Why? Because in any baking environment, one of the first and best defenses against pest infestations is cleanliness. 

To understand the connection between pest management and sanitation, it’s important to understand why bakeries are especially susceptible to pest infestations.

Let’s face it, the smell of fresh-baked bread is attractive to almost anyone, and if this smell is appealing to people, you can be sure it’s alluring to pests. Pests are far more likely to infest places that provide them access to food and water, and the smell of baked goods sends a clear signal that food is plentiful inside.
Once in your bakery, flies, cockroaches, rodents and other pests can thrive, feeding on your inventory, finished goods or food debris from production lines.

Moisture in and around sinks and dishwashing machines, not to mention any liquid used in the baking process, can also supply pests with the water they need to survive. The bottom line is that pests will be difficult to eliminate once they enter the sheltered comfort of your bakery.

An effective sanitation program removes food and water sources from all areas of a bakery, including the kitchen, product-storage rooms, loading docks, employee break rooms and customer areas. By denying pests access to these elements, you give them less reason to be there.  

Vigilant sanitation is a critical part of a broader pest control method called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM goes beyond chemical treatments to incorporate other powerful control methods – like sanitation – to prevent pests. Work with your staff to employ these sanitation techniques as part of your IPM effort:

• First and foremost, immediately clean up all food and liquid spills.

• Carefully inspect the floor surrounding dishwashing machines, sinks, refrigerators and freezers for any moisture leaks. Eliminate any standing water and repair leaks as soon as possible.

• Thoroughly clean floor drains on a regular basis to remove residual debris. Floor drains are a common breeding ground for fruit and drain flies. Environmentally friendly organic cleaners are available that will eliminate the grease and grime on which these flies feed with naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes.

• Vacuum cracks and crevices that might harbour debris. A HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorber) vacuum will remove most particles, especially from hard to see and reach areas.

• Tightly seal and line all garbage cans, and dispose of trash in a timely manner, as odours act as strong attractors for pests. Locate dumpsters as far away from the facility as possible and rotate and clean them frequently.

• Keep storage areas dry and clean. Stored baking ingredients are always under threat of infestation from stored-product pests and rodents, so it is important to regularly inspect storage for signs of infestation, including ruined product, droppings and live insects.

• Finally, it is just as important to keep the sidewalks and parking lot outside your bakery clean as it is to keep your kitchen clean. Regularly sweep, hose and wash these areas to make sure that pests are not finding sustenance anywhere near your bakery.

Again, staff cooperation and their understanding of the IPM program are key factors in the ultimate success of your sanitation program. Work with your pest management professional to make sure that your employees understand how their sanitation efforts support a pest-free environment. Managing a bakery may not be a piece of cake, but an effective sanitation program certainly will make pest control a lot easier.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Quality Assurance Director for Orkin, Inc. A Board Certified Entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail or visit

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