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National Restaurant Association - Be proactive with restaurant pest management

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Be proactive with restaurant pest management

Maintaining a clean, pest-free environment is an ongoing task for restaurant owners and operators. Chris Del Rossi, founder of Food and Drug and the Bug integrated pest management company and a speaker at the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Quality Assurance Executive Study Group meeting, says, “Pests act as paintbrushes. They can ‘paint’ bacteria on food surfaces.”

To lower your restaurant’s risk for pest-related issues, Del Rossi recommends honing in on these three factors, as well as scheduling regular inspections with your pest control company:


“Gravity works, and water and food tend to go down,” says Del Rossi. Any area that’s difficult to clean, such as underneath ramps or in the crevices between equipment, can serve as a refuge for pests. You can reduce the amount of microenvironments in your kitchen by selecting equipment with lockable wheels and installing flexible gas and electric lines, which can accommodate movement during cleaning.

Place food waste in trash bags, promptly dispose of it, and always shut the dumpster lid. When possible, station your restaurant’s dumpster away from any doors to eliminate an entry point for pests. If your dumpster is dirty or does not have a lid, contact trash companies and ask for new.


Avoid planting bushes that touch the ground and/or touch your restaurant’s structure. Stone is less conducive for pests than bark or mulch; placing a strip of gravel between the exterior perimeter of your building and the landscaping makes it tougher for pests to infiltrate. Off-building, yellow-spectrum exterior lighting also directs them away from restaurant entry points.

Inside and outside, ensure all pipes are properly sealed; the ceiling, roof and walls remain crack-free; grout stays solid; and broken tile is swiftly replaced.


When storing equipment and food, Del Rossi recommends pretending the floor doesn’t exist. Place any and all items on elevated shelves, preferably adjustable wire racking inches from the walls, floor and ceiling. Change air filters regularly, keeping them clean, dry and tightly sealed, as pests can pull through gaps. 

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