Green Pest Prevention Is Key to Food Safety

Posted on July 10, 2015 by


by Dr. Thomas Green, Ph.D. and Matthew Neff, IPM Institute of North America

In food preparation environments, pests can be dangerous and costly. Flies can land on a dirty, pathogen-laced floor drain one second and your potato salad the next. A cockroach scurrying into view of a health inspector can make anyone’s heart sink.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a green approach to pest prevention based in common sense. Remove the conditions that allow pests to flourish – access to food, water and shelter —and they won’t have a reason to be there.

In the course of conducting hundreds of facility investigations for a wide variety of clients, we’ve come across lots of pest-conducive conditions. Two of the most overlooked are the absence of door sweeps on exterior doors, and dirty, neglected floor drains in food preparation areas.

Door Sweep - Properly InstalledDoor sweeps, which seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the door sill, can cut pest complaints by as much as 65% according to research from the University of Florida. Rats can squeeze through a gap just one-half inch wide, mice one-quarter inch. Any gap at all provides access for insects. Installing door sweeps is cheap and easy. Get good quality, brush-type sweeps and don’t leave any gaps on either end, or in the middle on double doors.

Gaps under exterior doors are a common mode of entry for pests. The door on the right has a high quality brush-type sweep installed.

Floor drains are often out of sight, out of mind. We often find decaying organic matter in neglected drains feeding fly maggots, ants and cockroaches. These can also provide a substrate for pathogens such as Listeria. Flies landing in the muck to deposit eggs can carry pathogens to food and food prep surfaces, inviting food safety disasters.

Sanitation - Nasty drain 1Forgotten and neglected drains in food service areas is primary source for small fly problems. Identify all drains and have them assigned for regular cleaning and inspection to prevent pest and food safety issues.

Here are two simple steps to greener pest management:

1. Identify all exterior doors and have missing or damaged sweeps replaced with good quality brush-type sweeps (link to Sealeze), installed properly ( by a skilled individual.

2. Locate and map all floor drains in food service areas and put them on a regular cleaning schedule. Be sure not to miss any that are hidden by equipment or clutter. Make sure drain covers are easily removable for cleaning. When cleaning dirty drains, put all food away, and carefully scrape and sponge the dirty drain—avoid brushing, as it may aerosolize any bacteria present. Take care not to create clogs with broken off material, and flush with a bacterial/enzyme cleaner such as Invade Biofoam. Carefully clean food prep surfaces before bringing food out again.

Drain - CleanishThese simple tactics can dramatically reduce pest problems in food preparation facilities. For more information, visit us online at See our presentation on drains at .

About IPM Institute of North America

Green Shield Certified is an award-winning certification for pest management professionals, programs and facilities run by the IPM Institute of North America, a non-profit organization working to improve health, environment and economics in both agriculture and community settings since 1998. Our skilled evaluators have resolved persistent pest problems in hundreds of facilities worldwide.

© 2015 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties.

Posted in: Family safety