Pest Control: That's What You Are Going To DoThursday, February 04, 2021
We have established that pest control is a prerequisite for food safety. Pest control seeks to eliminate or control the population of those creatures that are classified as pests. Whether your food business is a community shop or supermarket chain, a corner shop or a restaurant franchise, pest control is important; in this case, size does not matter.
Pest control strategies must be developed into a programme which aims to prevent the introduction of pests on the premises and to manage said premises in such a way that it prevents the harbouring of these unwanted creatures. While bigger establishments tend to have pest control systems in place, smaller establishments, more often than not, have not invested in such systems. Sometimes this is because they do not understand the far-reaching impact that an infestation can have, or they believe they can handle it themselves.
Additionally, pest control must be considered as an integral part of food safety and the legal responsibility of the food business operator. It falls under the authority of the Pest Control Authority (PCA) in Jamaica which approves the use of chemicals and licenses operators and applicators. The Pesticide Act is supported by the Public Health (Food Handling) Regulations, which lays out the requirements to ensure good food hygiene practices to prevent contamination including from pests. Therefore, it's a requirement that anyone in the food business, who is tasked to carry out pest control activities, be trained and authorised to do so.
It should be noted that having a “mouser” is not a solution in a food establishment. I have been to a small supermarket and seen cats roaming among the shelves of goods; that was an immediate signal for me to choose another place to shop. A similar sighting was in the restaurant of a hotel; when I commented on it I was advised that it was the owner's dog, so it was allowed.
No, this is not allowed.
Animals such as cats and dogs add another food safety risk because, like pests, their bodies are vehicles for contaminants that transfer to surface areas as they roam the premises. It is fashionable to have small dogs such as pomeranians and Shih Tzus; however, these must be restricted from entering kitchens, and food preparation and serving areas.
Regardless of the size of a food business establishment, pest control must be incorporated and be more than a hit or miss function. Standard operating procedures for pest control must be developed and these must be based on food safety hazards and risk. All food business operators must exercise their due diligence in ensuring that they have an established pest control process which is aimed at preventing, eliminating and controlling infestation.
Whether community shops or supermarket chains, food carts or trucks, cook shops or restaurant franchises, pest control is important to all. Each business is unique and as such, the measures used to prevent food safety infractions due to pests must match the uniqueness of the business.
Pest control is to food safety what a well-run business is to your bottom line.
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