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How Pest Threats Can Lead to Foodborne Illness

By Jennifer Brumfield, Training and Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in six people become ill from food consumed in the United States each year. Of those 48 million affected, 128,000 are hospitalized and over 3,000 ultimately die from foodborne diseases.

These statistics demonstrate that restaurants are often making life-or-death decisions with their sanitation policies, including their pest management practices. Indeed, disease-carrying pests can lead to many life-threatening foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella and Listeria.

By understanding pest threats and the contamination risks they pose, restaurants can provide a safer and healthier dining experience for both their customers and employees.

Pest Threats in Restaurants

The most common pests behind foodborne illnesses are flies, rodents, and cockroaches. These three species carry dangerous microorganisms and pathogens that can cause severe illnesses when consumed by humans.

Pest Management: A Necessity for Illness Prevention

The presence of pests, both dead and alive, and what they leave behind (e.g. excrement and nesting materials) pose a significant health threat to diners and employees. By implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) program, your restaurant team and pest management provider can work together to proactively prevent pest threats.

Proper sanitation is an essential element of any successful IPM strategy. The following sanitation steps should be taken to deter flies, cockroaches, rodents, and their associated foodborne diseases:

Although food can become contaminated at any point during the production cycle, pests in your restaurant increase the risk of disease outbreak. By understanding the pest threats and associated contamination risks, restaurants can help ensure a safe dining experience.

Jennifer Brumfield is a Training and Technical Specialist and Board Certified Entomologist for Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.

Originally featured at Total Food Service.