Updated 02 July 2014

Hotel pests in summer

The SA hospitality industry historically experiences an increase in pests during summer as a higher volume of stock is received from suppliers for the busy tourism season.

The South African hospitality industry historically experiences an increase in pests during summer as a higher volume of stock is received from suppliers for the busy tourism season. Furthermore, large numbers of employees move in and out of hotels, restaurants, bakeries and catering facilities, adding to the increase. 

To prevent an outbreak of pests such as the German and American cockroach, rats, mice, flies, bedbugs and stored product pests otherwise known as pantry pests, hospitality players must ensure that monthly inspections and treatments are conducted by registered pest control operators.

Regular inspections important

This is according to Eileen Slabber, Managing Director of Ecofirst Pest Prevention and Hygiene Services(Pty) Ltd, a division of Ecowize Group,a health and sanitation company servicing the food sector. Slabber argues it is important for hotels, restaurants, bakeries and catering facilities to be regularly treated for pests and not only every few months or when an outbreak occurs.   

“Managers and staff must be on the lookout for signs of infestation. Regular inspections must be conducted for signs of pests, including mattresses and beds, storerooms, food stores, kitchens and waste retention areas,” says Slabber. 

She points to a recent example in London, whereby luxury hotel group, Hilton, were forced to pay £750 compensation to a guest who stayed at its Gatwick Airport property in February 2012. “The guest’s holiday was ruined by bed bugs, which left him covered in bites and blood.” 

Slabber says that if pests are found, managers can minimise the impact and spread of the infestation bysetting up a pest control contract with a specialist service that is registered with the Department of Agriculture.  She adds that keeping records of inspections, findings and any action taken to treat an infestation is essential to finding long-term solutions. 

Pest control not an in-house job

“Under no circumstance should managers and staff use their own pesticides. Pest control contractors provide a programme of proposed monitoring and corrective measures on site, together with safety information on any products that they plan to use.” 

She advises that before any pesticides are used, pests and problem areas must first be identified.  Slabber says clients are then given a recommendation of how to deal with the problem with the minimum impact on people, property, and the environment. 

“Guests often inadvertently transfer infestations onto clothes, shoes and luggage. Should an infestation be found in a hotel room, suitable treatments and actions are to be implemented and the room should not be used until the issue is completely resolved.” 

Slabber says that in order to keep pests out of hotels, restaurants, bakeries and catering facilities, the most important step is to inspect all incoming stock on a continuous basis for any pest activity, as the introduction of these pests into a new area is likely to trigger an infestation. 

She adds that in order to keep flying pests outside, all windows and doors are to be kept closed. “By law, food that is sold must be free from contamination and therefore due diligence and precautionary measures must be taken against contamination from flying insect pests. Flies, for example, carry diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, polio and anthrax with which they can infect food.” 

She recommends the following preventative measures for kitchens and hotels in the hospitality industry: 

  • Regular cleaning of kitchen and storeroom shelves. Ensure all equipment is moved for cleaning.
  • Ensure all old equipment is clean and regular inspections are conducted to inspect possible pest activity.
  •  “First in, first out” policy to be followed with food stock. Never mix old products with new products.
  • Holes and openings in wall areas should be sealed with cement, not foam or steel fillers, or steel as rats and mice can chew through this. Rats need only one centimetre to enter a facility and mice only need a centimetre and a half.
  • Packaging materials not in use must be disposed of, as this could be an ideal breeding area for pests. Some pests are capable of chewing through packaging, exposing the food product and attracting other pests such as rats, mice, beetles, weevils and mites. The pests can contaminate the food product and lead to high-risk infestations, which, if consumed, can create digestive problems.
  • Staff lockers and personal belongings are to be placed away from kitchen areas.
  • Ensure waste bins inside kitchens are cleaned in the outside as well as the inside. Do not only remove the black bag each time. Refuse removal to be done frequently.
  • Toilets must be supplied with lids and bathrooms must contain a self-closing door with a metal strip underneath to keep pests out.

(Press release from the Ecowize Group, February 2013)


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