Bakers Journal

Springtime is pest-control time

April 30, 2015
By Alice Sinia

Keep pests from raiding your kitchen

When warmer weather makes its appearance, pest pressures could heat up in the kitchen as well.

Restaurants and bakeries offer up an endless buffet for pests, but you can combat future infestations by incorporating spring cleaning into your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. This approach focuses on proactive sanitation measures to reduce sources of food and water, as well as facility maintenance to block pests’ entry and access to your facility.

Now is the perfect time to prepare for potential seasonal pests like flies and rodents. Flies in particular can be a real nuisance both indoors and outside. Even worse, they are a huge food safety offender, carrying more than 100 pathogens, which makes them capable of transmitting bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella when they land.

A female house fly can lay up to 150 eggs at a time, and those eggs can hatch within 20 hours. Rodent populations can also grow quickly. Without intervention, one pair of mice may produce 200 offspring in just four months. Rats and mice can also contaminate food and spread diseases proven hazardous to humans. A thorough cleanse of your facility can go a long way in the prevention of a possible rodent infestation as they colonize in hard-to-reach areas.


The following spring cleaning tips can help remove the elements that attract pests to your establishment, while still ensuring your guests have an enjoyable dining experience.

Set the scene for your entire pest management program by making sure your facility isn’t attractive to pests:

  • Limit the vegetation and trim tree branches that may have grown against your restaurants exterior. By creating a vegetation-free barrier of at least one metre, you can keep foliage from providing cover and hiding potential pest entry points.
  • Seal any holes or cracks in your building with weather-resistant sealant. Most pests only need a tiny opening to infiltrate your building. Remember, even a gap as small as your fingertip can allow a mouse to enter.
  • Check gutters for leaks and debris that can lead to moisture buildup and become a pest hot spot by providing ideal breeding grounds.
  • Work from the outside in to make sure grounds and parking lots are free from trash and debris that may have been hidden under winter snow drifts. Partner with your waste management professional to clean and rotate your dumpsters to help keep conducive conditions to a minimum. Dumpster rotation is especially important during warmer months when flying pests are in their prime.
  • Use weather stripping around windows, seal any exposed pipe or conduit penetrations with caulking or sheet metal if required and install door sweeps or new thresholds where needed at all exterior doorways.

Flies are often a sign of a larger sanitation issue. As a result, having a five-star sanitation routine is crucial in the foodservice industry.

  • Line and seal all trash cans and remove waste daily. Even small amounts of food waste can feed a large number of unwelcome critters.
  • Pests also feed on the grease and grime that accumulates in drains, so be sure to scrub all drains with a brush and an environmentally responsible cleaner made up of naturally occurring enzymes and beneficial micro-organisms.
  • Thoroughly clean all dishes, utensils, surfaces and floors to remove any food debris.
  • Pests only need a small amount of water to survive, so work with your maintenance team to fix any leaking faucets, dishwashers or ice machines.
  • Use tightly sealed clear plastic containers to store goods in your pantry. Maintain aisles between shelves or perimeter space between shelves and walls. The space should be adequate enough to allow for pest monitoring and proper housekeeping.

Consult your pest management professional to see how these spring cleaning tips can become a part of your food safety program. Getting a fresh start this spring can help keep pests off the menu all year. 

Alice Sinia, Ph.D., is a resident entomologist with Orkin Canada. She focuses on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 10 years of experience, she manages the quality assurance laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information, email her at or visit

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