Pest Control & Food Safety Awareness
A dust free and a well-arranged house is not an only metric for a clean home. The hidden ant holes, the streak of termites beneath your coffee table, etc. can deceive onlookers but as it turns out, not for too long. The biggest action that turns on the alarm for the hidden pest infestation is food poisoning.
Apart from damaging the household stuff and be a nuisance, pests can attack and contaminate human food. Some of the contamination’s can be visible (half eaten cheese by a mouse) while some other went unnoticed (cockroach been crawled on your apple pie). Many forms of diseases and bacteria are credited on the name of these nauseous pests, running and crawling in your house.
Places with continental climate (hot summers and cold winters) such as Minneapolis, Minnesota are more inviting to almost every type of rodent and insects. The people residing in such places need to be more cautious about the effect of pests on their food safety. For the businesses, there is food legislation in effect, which set up standard rules and procedure to ensure pest infestation remains under a check. There is no such legislation for house living, but a resident can call for pest control in Minneapolis service to keep their home free from rodents, insects and some kind of infected birds.
The common types of pests in Food businesses
Basically, food businesses have to deal with the following three types of pests:
- Rodents like rats and mice
- Insects like cockroaches, ants, beetles, flies, and others
- Birds like pigeons, seagull
They are found near human and animal waste and becomes the source of cross-contamination. Later, they come in contact with the food items and transfer all the pathogens like Salmonella, E. Coli, Campylobacter and Listeria.
How to ensure the safety of food, from pests’ contamination
Preventive measures are mostly recommended in this scenario since, once the contamination is noticed, there is no other way but to dispose of the food. Thus, the efforts are needed towards preventing the storage environment from getting favorable for the pests. Here is how it can be done:
- Seal the attractions
By taking care of food-related spillage or open food items, we are taking the first step towards keeping pests away from getting our food infected. For this purpose:
- Examine and clean hard-to-reach food storage areas.
- Immediately, clean up all the spillage
- Store all the food items off the floor and keep open packets in containers with the lid.
- Use tight lid bins for food waste
- Empty and clean the bins on a regular basis
- Do not leave food and drinks in unfavorable conditions, overnight.
- Check for moisture, in the places of storing food.
- Temperature Control
By keeping the food items under the recommended surrounding temperature, can help in diminishing the growth of disease-causing bacteria. The bacteria tend to grow in temperatures lower than 8oC and above 63oC.
The manufacturer’s storage instructions must be followed for packet food. Chilled foods are to be kept at or below 8oC while some cold food items like butter, fats, kinds of margarine, pickles, and jams can be kept at a room temperature. There are time limits for keeping perishable food items under the room temperature. For example, cooked pies and pasties cannot be left further than 24 hours, at a room temperature.
Thorough cooking and heating are vital for killing harmful bacteria which are ready to cause food poisoning. Cooking high-risk foods like poultry, chopped meat can be checked for appropriate temperature by using a probe thermometer. Check the list of safe temperature for cooking a food item.
Defrosted food must be kept under safe temperature, for the recommended period.
- Disinfect and sterilize
Just liquid soap and water is not enough for disinfecting the food containers or surface. It is essential to use correct products and materials for cleaning the dishes and storage containers, to have an extended protection.
- Detergents – cleans a dirty, greasy and oily surface
- Disinfectants – Kills bacteria but cannot be used for cleaning
- Sanitizers – Used on food preparation areas, for cleaning and disinfectant purpose
- Anti-bacterial products- prevents the growth of bacteria, after the cleaning. Some anti-bacterial products even are 2 in 1 (anti-bacterial and cleanser)
- Bleach – they are unsafe to come in contact with the food, so it must be used in places which do not come in direct contact of the food.
Again, follow the manufacturer instructions for the contact time, dilution ratio and recommended types of surface, before using any product.
- Stick to food expiration
A strict adherence to the expiration dates of the products must be the first rule of the kitchen. “Use By” property of food items must be checked, every time you use the stored food item. Either the food items will mention the manufacturing date along with period as the number of months/years before expiration or there would be a straightforward mention of the expiry date.
For stock rotation, the food industry can use color-coded day dot systems for all foods with a shelf life of fewer than 7 days and handwritten stickers for foods with shelf-life more than 7 days.
- Food storage
Maintaining the storage environment is equally important. Uncleaned containers, over-stacked refrigerator, stacking containers directly on top of the food, poor cling filming, dispensing cutlery being left fully immersed, are some sufficient conditions for the growth of pests and bacteria.
The measures for food safety from pests are not critical but a wide area to be taken care of. Regular vigilance is what is needed for better taste and health.