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How to: Safeguard Your Supply Chain Against Pests

By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

When it comes to professional foodservice, maintaining a spotless reputation is everything. Solely keeping up a squeaky-clean front of house just won’t cut it though. The daily operations behind the scenes of your establishment are just as, if not more, important – and this includes pest control.

Pests pose a huge risk to operations year-round. With the ability to spread disease-causing organisms, such as E. coli and Salmonella, they can threaten food safety, your health inspection score, your reputation, and your bottom line.

But the restaurant isn’t always directly at fault for pest incidents. Some of the most common restaurant pests, including cockroaches, rodents, and flies, are known hitch hikers and could be arriving at your restaurant unbeknownst to you in a delivery from a supplier. Inventory contaminated by an in­fested shipment from your supplier can disrupt daily operations and become an expensive problem to fix.

Case in point: your pest control efforts are only as good as your suppliers.

The good news is that monitoring your supply chain can help identify pest problems before they make their way into your restaurant. Here are some tips to help stop pests before they invade your establishment.

Confirm you suppliers are up to standards

In order to uphold your business’s commitment to food safety, it’s important to make sure your suppliers are held to the same stringent standards as your establishment. Ask your suppliers the following questions:

  1. What are their pest management protocols? Their protocols should be consistent or even more rigorous than your own. Don’t settle for less.
  2. What is their track record when it comes to third-party audits or regulatory inspections? Request to see their most recent scores and remember, pest control is a significant portion of overall audit scores.

If a supplier will not answer your questions about their pest management protocols, it should raise a red flag.

Keep an open line of communications with all parties involved

It’s not only important to communicate with your pest control provider, but your suppliers as well. You can even consider asking your pest management provider to facilitate a meeting between all of your suppliers to share best practices and ensure everyone is adhering to the same standards. Some providers may even be able to conduct vendor/supplier inspections.

Closely inspect every shipment

Because you can’t necessarily control what happens at each link of the supply chain, your last chance to help protect your establishment from infested supplier shipments is at the end of the line – your door. Before bringing products and supplies inside your doors, inspect every shipment, including non-food items. If you see any signs of pests, do not accept the shipments and remove them from the premises.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent bringing in infested shipments:

There are also a few steps you can take after receiving shipments that can help further safeguard your establishment from pests:

By working with your supply chain partners to ensure strict pest control standards are followed, and taking the time to thoroughly inspect all incoming shipments, you can help prevent a costly pest infestation and maintain your establishment’s dedication to food safety and a spotless reputation.

Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.

Originally featured at Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.