Insect pests are the bane of many Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania industries, and they can be particular destructive to those involved in food preparation storage and service. This includes restaurants; food processing plants; warehouses, supermarkets, delis, restaurants and other businesses throughout Western Pennsylvania.
There is an amazing diversity of pests that can infiltrate our food products and negatively affect this important industrial sector, and generally speaking, the potential consequences for the food retail sector for failure to protect their premises from pest infestations by calling for outside pest control and pest management are both serious and manifold.
They include: damage to standing in the community and customer trust; lost sales and profits; costs for replacement of damaged products; financial loss from claims for compensation and imposed fines and risk of closure by public health authorities.
So what are the most invasive creepy crawlies every Pittsburgh and Western PA food-based business needs to protect against? Read on to learn more and to discover the effective the pest management procedures we employ to prevent, eliminate and destroy them.
Statistics Relevant To Loss Of Revenue From Pantry Pests
Stored product pests are regarded as the world’s most expensive, as 60% of businesses that have suffered from a stored product pest infestation reported an annual revenue loss between 1 and 9%.
A 2015 study conducted by the Center For Economic and Business Research (CEBR) on behalf of Rentokill addressed the impact a pest infestation has on business operations in the UK, France, Italy, the USA and Australia.
The study focused on the food distribution industry which includes: food distribution and transport; food wholesale and retail; hotels, restaurants and bars and “non-public-facing industries” such as agriculture and food production.
Within the hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, bars etc) 73% of all surveyed businesses were concerned by revenue losses caused by stored product insects. Nearly half (45% to be exact) suffered losses from a stored product insect infestation and reported replacement costs for contaminated raw ingredients such as flour, rice or wheat.
Similarly, 10% of businesses within the food processing industry reported costs from stored product pests in the form of fines or closures.
The Most Invasive Stored Product Insect Pests In Pittsburgh
Stored product pests can cost the average business about $36,000 each year, over double the cost of a typical pest infestation conducted by highly-skilled experts.
Also known generically as SPIs, this term covers beetles, weevils, moths and mites that infest food in storage areas anywhere within the expansive food chain that ranges from the Pennsylvania farm to the average Pittsburgh commercial kitchen.
Stored product insect pests can also enter foods via packaging made of paper, cardboard, plastic, cellophane and foil. These insects may only consume a small quantity of food, but their exposure to it via feces, cocoons and the introduction of degrading microorganisms, can contaminate large quantities, making it unacceptable for human consumption.
Any food that can be stored is susceptible to damage from stored food pests. The Indian Meal Moth, for example, loves nuts; dried fruit and grains; beetles and weevils are generally attracted to: cereals; grains; flour; seeds; nuts; dried fruit; spices and processed products, such as pasta.
While ants do not present as much as a safety issue as other SPIs, they are a nuisance, and can and do contribute to different sectors of business losses. They do not carry disease, but they can pick up disease-causing organisms when walking on contaminated surfaces. Economic losses are incurred when food contaminated by ants must be discarded. They can navigate their way to food sources in buildings via the smallest gaps.
Ants penetrate fresh foods, food preparation areas, shelving and packaged foods and damage both the food and the packaging. The presence of ants in a business or in products sold by a store can seriously damage a company’s reputation by causing unwanted publicity and potential food safety notices or prosecution of health violations.
Three species of flies are attracted to food odors: the Fruit Fly, the Drain Fly and the House Fly. These insects are a huge concern for food-related industries because they can severely impact human health and well-being. Rotting food, organic waste material and particularly, fermenting sugary liquids attract fruit flies. These fluids easily collect in garbage containers, over-ripe fruit; old drink bottles; in drains and in cracks on wet floors in which they both feed and breed.
Fruit flies are known to breed specifically in the thin, transparent, viscous bacterial coatings that form on surfaces that are often resistant to cleaning, such as drains, compost and septic tanks. The Fruit Fly is not considered as much of a health risk as the House Fly and the Drain Fly, because they do not feed on filth like the others.
House Flies and Drain Flies are known to carry more than 100 pathogens that can cause disease, including: Salmonella, Cholera, Shigella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, parasitic worms and fungi. Their diet consists of
fecal matter, garbage, rotting materials and stored and processed foods in food processing plants. Flies are known to move repeatedly between the tainted food sources and clean areas, picking up contaminated material as they feed, in their mouthparts and on their bodies. Houseflies regurgitate digestive juices and defecate while feeding and resting.
- Indian Meal Moth
The Indian Meal Moth can be found in food storage facilities across the globe. They are extremely common in Florida where they also thrive outdoors. The larvae are surface feeders, and most of damage they incur to stored products occurs when they spin massive amounts of silk that collect fecal pellets, cast skins, and eggshells inside food products.
Food processing plant managers as well as owners of warehouses, grocery stores and granaries must be alert, pro-active, and always on the look-out for indications of meal moth infestations. Pestco technicians are on call at all times to initiate a pest control and pest management program that usually involves elimination and exclusion.
These destructive insect pests can cause much damage within food related businesses because of their ability to hide in tiny, unexpected places, their range of diet, rapid reproduction (particularly the German Cockroach) and the diseases they are known to carry. They are found wherever food is, all over the world. The three most prevalent species known to infest food production and waste storage areas and equipment are the German Cockroach, the American Cockroach and the Oriental Cockroach.
Cockroaches are carriers of a large number of disease-causing bacteria, including Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria, E. coli, and also fungi, viruses and parasitic worms. They are nocturnal critters, and seek shelter in food stores inside equipment such as still-warm ovens and appliances that provide the right temperature and humidity. They love cracks and crevices in walls, drains, sewers and other hidden spaces that are hard to reach during normal cleaning operations. A business infestation can be too much for the average company sanitation crew to handle, and will usually require outside help from the reliable pest control and pest management experts at Pestco.
Rodents do present a health threat to humans because they are vectors for disease. They carry parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites, and they are also agents for some mosquito-borne diseases. Rats and mice are attracted to food supplies, but do not venture far from their shelter or nesting sites, a fact which aids Pestco technicians when they are mapping out the best pest control and pest management strategies and solutions.
Rats wreak havoc with buildings, sewer systems and infrastructure. Industrial damage can include: fixtures; machinery and electrical systems; food containers and packaging; contamination of food supplies and the transmission of diseases, including Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, Toxoplasmosis and rat-bite fever.
Legislation protects wild birds and their nests, and only birds regarded as pests can be controlled. The most common bird pests are: pigeons, house sparrows, several gull species and starlings, each of which we wrote extensively about before.
In terms of buildings and commercial spaces, birds can cause considerable physical damage to structures by dislodging roof tiles and blocking gutters. Their fecal droppings pollute buildings, vehicles, paved areas and building entrances that humans utilize daily. Bird nesting material and feathers clog gutters and are contaminants of surfaces, food products on display and equipment in food preparation areas.
Food and waste storage areas offer safety, nourishment and roosting grounds around structures, particularly under rooves. A proactive approach to bird infestation is usually necessary to dislodging an unwanted bird infestation. Pestco can offer the most advanced and environmentally sound strategies and solutions to any business besieged with industrial damage and an interruption in business activities due to an invasion of birds.
A Few Additional Facts About Food Storage and Pantry Pests
- The Merchant Grain Beetle: This stored product pest has six saw-like teeth on each side of its flat body.
- The Indian Meal Moth: This pantry and food storage pest was given its name after a scientist found one feeding on cornmeal, also known as Indian meal.
- Ants Produce More Force Pound Per Pound: Pantry ants can carry up to 50 times their body weight. This is because their muscles have a greater cross sectional area relative to their body size when compared to other animals.
- Ants Don’t Have Lungs Or Blood Vessels: Ants breathe through small holes that cover their bodies. Oxygen enters the openings, and carbon dioxide leaves.
- House Flies Live On a Liquid Diet: Flies require a liquid diet because they lack the mouthparts needed to chew food. Instead, they must drink it.
- Flies Can Taste with their Feet: Like butterflies, flies can taste food using their feet because their taste receptors are located on their lower legs and feet.
- Flies Are Able To See Behind Them: Their amazing compound eyes, which do not move, grant flies the ability to see behind them. They provide these insects with a nearly 360-degree field of vision.
- Rodent Teeth Never Stop Growing: A set of continuously growing teeth is one of the defining characteristics of rodents. Both rats and mice always need something to gnaw on to keep their pearly whites trimmed. This is the reason why they cause so much damage to infrastructure. A rat’s teeth can chew through substances as hard as lead sheeting and cinder block.
- The Largest Cockroach In The World: The Megaloblatta longipennis cockroach measures 3.8 inches with an 8-inch wingspan. It is found in Central and South America (and, hopefully, not too close to any one reading this).
General Preventive Measures
Pantry pests have three modes of ingress into foods. They can find their way via exterior walls; hitchhike inside food packages or spread from one food package to other stored foods.
Sealing exterior entry points helps, but usually pest control measures, such as sealing off tiny holes and installing a door sweep on the bottom of the pantry door are necessary to support vulnerable areas.
It is important to keep food storage areas dry via a fan or dehumidifier. A company pantry should always be free of moisture. This will help to create a dry environment these pantry pests do not like.
Food company personnel must always store products in hard plastic, sealable containers. This will kill any pests that might have missed inspection at the time of purchase. These containers also serve to prevent other pests from getting in and infesting stored goods.
Send us a message or call Pestco today — (412) 252-5200. Your company’s future may depend on it!
The Pestco Complete Facility Care Approach
This three-pronged initiative offers the ultimate in pest control, washroom hygiene services provided Enviro-Master and environmental odor and air freshening solutions supplied by Air-Scent.
This vast array of professional services is the best on the market today and is available under the cost-effective blanket of one highly respected company that has been in continuous operation since 1948.
This special offer ensures that food-related businesses such as restaurants, food processing plants, granaries, delis, etc, will receive the best cost effective services for the optimum operation of their facilities.
This extends beyond pest control and pest management solutions and includes air freshening strategies and odor control applications for restroom hygiene. Send our hygiene experts your facility particulars today for a complete holistic approach to facility management.