Food Safety: Feed Guests, Not Pests

Control pests and bacteria in outdoor cooking areas.


Outdoor F&B service is always a hit when the weather is right. You regularly have the PCO inhouse to inspect your operations and to implement control measures as needed based on the current audit and your communications with them. All control measures that require the application of baits, residual or contact sprays, and traps must be applied by a licensed PCO. Prevention of an infestation is the goal. Cockroaches, flies, birds, mice, and rats carry disease-causing organisms in their digestive tracts and potentially on their feet and legs. Here are few tips for making these pests less welcome:

  • Pests want and need the same things paying guests do: food, shelter, and a drink. Keep areas clean and dry. This means areas that you cannot see are key. Those “Oh, I have to get on my hands and knees to clean and inspect” areas. Grease, food particles, and excess moisture are attractants and nourishment.
  • Keep all trash and recycling areas clean and bins covered.
  • Wash and rinse trash areas regularly. This means with hot water and detergent. You have to really clean these areas to reduce the food supply.
  • Inspect your facilities for access points for all pests. This includes water and drain lines.
  • Install air curtains at loading docks and other access areas to keep fly infiltration at a minimum.
  • Regularly clean and sanitize all utensil drawers and areas that tend to not get attention on a regular basis.
  • Store dirty and wet kitchen towels in covered containers.
  • Fly-attractant light-based traps that hold the “kill” in a safe manner are a good investment. When you are emptying, make sure you wash your hands afterwards.
  • Pull cardboard and other packaging out of the facility as soon as possible. Keep in mind that roaches love to hitch a ride inside cardboard and other packaging. They also like to eat it if there is no other easier food source.
  • When did you last ask your vendors for a copy of their pest control program and records? Are pests hitching a ride inside your vendor’s delivery truck? Are vendors improperly treating their areas with pesticides that are now in or on your goods?
  • If you have outdoor dining areas, train your staff to treat bird droppings just as they treat human waste. Glove up, use a process that isolates the cleaning, and use sanitizing tools for just this process. Wash hands well after completing the process before returning to other work. Birds are highly mobile, and their feces should be considered highly contaminated with disease-causing organisms.

If you have outdoor cabanas or other structures with a roof, check to see what happens when it rains. Where does that runoff go? More than likely that runoff is full of bacteria, and you want to minimize the splash and potential contamination of other surfaces and products.

Norm FaiolaNorm Faiola is director of graduate programs and professor of practice at the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York. Contact him at


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