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Pests affecting Commercial Kitchens and Hospitality

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Top Pests affecting Commercial Kitchens and Hospitality


Certain insects, rodents and nuisance birds are considered public health pests and are a risk to commercial kitchens and hospitality businesses. They cause damage to your premises, fittings and fixtures, furnishings and foodstuffs, as well as your business reputation. These pests can also transmit pathogens and illnesses, which can affect your customers and staff.

Pest infestations can impart financial costs to your business as well. Not only is there the cost of treatment to eradicate pests, but contaminated stock and defaced items will need to be replaced, loss of reputation can lead to loss of business and there is the potential of fines and litigation from regulatory authorities.

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Commercial kitchens in restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, hotels and other hospitality venues and businesses have a responsibility to protect public health by preventing contamination of food and transmission of pest-borne diseases inside their premises.

Food safety legislation in the UK such as the Food Safety Act 1990 and the General Food Hygiene (England/ Scotland/ Wales/Ireland) Regulations 2006 (and in the EU Regulation (EC) 852/2004) mandate that food handling businesses should exclude pests and prevent food contamination by taking effective measures. The top pests and how they can affect commercial kitchens, food serving venues and hospitality are explained below.


Rats and mice are attracted by foodstuffs and will not venture far from their shelter or harborages, so they will nest close to accessible food sources. Rodents are capable of a rapid increase in population if given an abundant food supply, shelter from predators and benign environment inside your premises.

Hazards to commercial kitchens and hospitality from rodents include:

  • Damage to buildings and fixtures; one of the most common problems associated with brown rats is damage to electrical equipment, but they can also cause extensive damage to sewer systems by constant burrowing.
  • Contamination along access routes within your premise by rodents urine, droppings and filth picked up whilst scavenging.
  • Damage to storage containers and packaging, as rats and mice attempt to access food.
  • Contamination of food supplies with droppings, urine and filth as they consume foodstuffs, damaging and rendering inedible far more food than they actually consume.
  • Transmission of a number of pathogens that can cause disease, including Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, Toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease, rat-bite fever.
  • Rodents carry ectoparasites (parasites that live on the outside of their bodies), such as ticks, fleas, lice and mites and are therefore also a vector of diseases these insects carry.

Rodent Control

Effective control of rats and mice, involves the elimination of their harbourages in and around your premises and preventing access to food, water and shelter. There may be several points of entry, such as cracks, vents, pipes, cable ducts, drains, sewers, false ceilings, hidden voids, ventilation ducts, doorways, windows etc. This is where rodent proofing measures must be undertaken to help prevent access.

Any rodents present within or around your premise must be controlled using traps or poison according to UK legislation practices, including food law, health and safety, environmental and wildlife laws. Professional expertise is needed to determine the type of bait used, where it should be located and the frequency of baiting for the most effective control. Our innovative mouse RADAR unit monitors, captures and eliminates mice within your premises without the use of rodenticide. AutoGate external rat control is our unique solution to permanent external rat baiting that ensures legal compliance (under the Biocidal Product Regulations) whilst delivering immediate, targeted protection against rats before they find access to your premises.

AutoGate External Rat Control

AutoGate is a unique, innovative and 'intelligent' solution for immediate and effective external rat control


Innovative bait-free mouse control solution

There are specific requirements for documentation in UK food standards and legislation for pest control in hospitality, such as maintaining maps of all bait stations on your premise, records of sightings, and the monitoring regime; therefore it is vital to have the expertise of qualified pest control professionals. The myRentokil online reporting and analysis system gives you 24/7 access to reporting on all pest activity, together with actions taken and practical recommendations to help reduce potential pest risks. The consolidated reporting and risk profiling will help you achieve compliance with food safety standards and audits.

The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) promotes the safe use of rodenticides to ensure correct usage in ways that minimise exposure of wildlife and other non-target animals. Rentokil technicians are trained in the safest and most effective use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) that meet the strict requirements of the CRRU stewardship scheme. Our local technicians and surveyors are British Pest Control Association (BPCA) certified professionals. As an organisation we ensure front line colleagues are fully aware of the risks professional products can pose to wildlife and they apply their knowledge and expertise to reduce any risks to non-target species.


Many fly species are attracted to food odours generated by kitchens and food preparation areas: fruit flies, drain flies, filth flies and house flies for example. Different species are attracted by different food items, including fermenting sugars, oils and fats, carbohydrates, and decaying proteins and vegetable matter. For effective pest control it’s important to correctly identify which fly species is present, as attractants, breeding habits and harbourages will vary.

  • Fruit flies - are attracted to fermenting sugary liquids, in which they feed and breed. This can occur in bar and storage areas, in kitchens, pubs, cafes and restaurants. Fruit flies only require a tiny amount of liquid, which can easily accumulate in; rubbish containers, over-ripe fruit and vegetables, open drink bottles, in drains, cracks in wet floors or beverage spillages.
  • Drain flies(also known as filer or moth flies) are attracted to rotting food, sewage and other organic waste material. They lay eggs in organic waste that can build up in drains or polluted shallow water. They can also breed in the gelatinous bacterial films (biofilms) that form on surfaces in drains, septic tanks, compost, and can be resistant to some cleaning and pest control chemicals.
  • House flies – are major carriers of disease, feeding on all types of food and breeding in decomposing waste such as rotting food and animal faeces.
  • Blow flies(also known as bluebottles) lay eggs in rotting meat, including commercial kitchen waste, and the carcasses of dead rats, mice, pigeons and other mammals.

Risks to hospitality from flies: in warm conditions and with abundant food flies will multiply rapidly. They regularly move between contaminated food sources (rotting materials, faeces, rubbish) and clean areas, causing cross contamination. Flies carry pathogens that cause disease such as Salmonella, Cholera, Campylobacter spp, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, parasitic worms and fungi. They pick up contaminated materials on their bodies, feet and mouth parts. Some regurgitate digestive juices and defecate while feeding and resting, contaminating foods and surfaces within your premises.

Controlling Flies

Good standard hygiene practices are particularly important for controlling flies helping to reduce attractive odours, potential feeding material and breeding sites. These include; adequate food hygiene practices in kitchen and dining areas; food preparation areas - floors, walls and equipment are cleaned and inspected regularly, including cracks and crevices where traces of food and liquid can accumulate; rubbish is disposed of regularly; drains are kept clean of accumulating organic matter and rubbish containers are kept clean and can seal shut properly.

Preventing opportunities for flies to enter your premises is essential to protecting your business. Use fly screens on windows and vents in kitchen areas, making sure they are maintained in good condition; keep doors and entrances closed when not in use. Electric Fly Killers (EFKs) in food preparation and storage areas will help to protect against fly contamination. Our Lumnia Fly Control units use LED technology to effectively eliminate flies. The high attraction output LED lamps offer average energy savings of 61% compared to equivalent competitor fly killers, whilst hygienically encapsulating insects, avoiding the problems of insect fragmentation or ‘blow out’ of dead insects associated with electric grid fly zappers.

Fruit flies breed quickly (up to 500 eggs laid at a time which can fully develop in as little as 7 days), leading to a rapid infestation within a very short time period. Rentokil’s Mini Fruit Fly Box is a uniquely designed, discreet but highly effective trap which attracts and rapidly eliminates fruit flies. Our unique External Fly Box specifically targets flies external breeding sites, around refuse areas outside your premises, before they enter the building. It requires no electricity, so is highly flexible in where it can be deployed to offer the most effective results. We also offer targeted pesticide treatments using approved professional products, applied by qualified pest controllers. This must be done in conjunction with the removal of the flies breeding environment.


Cockroaches are the most common crawling insect that can infests hospitality and food handling businesses. Their size gives the ability to hide in very small places, their varied diet and rapid reproduction makes them difficult to eradicate and the diseases they can carry (such as Salmonella, Dysentery & Gastro-enteritis) make them a significant threat to commercial kitchens. Cockroaches are primarily nocturnal, sheltering during the day and coming out at night to feed. They’ll hide in dark places such as cracks, crevices, drains, sewers, inside equipment and furnishings and hidden spaces that provide the right temperature and humidity. Such places are also difficult to reach using normal cleaning and sanitation methods.

Common cockroach species in the UK that can affect hospitality:

  • German Cockroaches (Blatella germanica): adults are about 12-15mm long and light brown. They prefer wet, humid conditions and are associated with infestations of kitchens and food storage areas, but can also infest bathrooms, vehicles, and office areas. They are good climbers, scaling smooth surfaces like glass and polished metal with ease; due to sticky pads on their feet. They are the most common cockroach pest in heated premises worldwide, so are rarely found outside in cooler climates like the UK.
  • Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis): adults are 20-25mm long and have a dark brown or black body. They prefer cooler, dark and damp places, such as basements and drains, and can be found in storage rooms and waste storage areas. They are known for their preference for feeding on rubbish and decaying matter.
  • Brown banded cockroaches (Supella longipalpa): one of the smallest pest cockroaches, adults are approximately 10 – 15mm in length and characterized by yellow-brown stripes across their abdomen. Their preference for warm, humid environments leads them to heated buildings - ceilings, attics, inside and around appliance motors. They are adaptable, often harbouring in a building some distance from obvious sources of food and water.
  • American cockroach (Periplaneta americana): also known as the ‘Palmetto bug’ are larger cockroaches, with adults 35-40mm long and reddish brown. They require warm, humid environments to survive. They are found in drains, sewers, basements, storage rooms and waste storage areas.

Hazards to commercial kitchens from cockroaches:

  • Diseases and allergens: cockroaches can carry a large number of disease-causing bacteria, including Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria, E. coli, and also fungi, viruses and parasitic worms.
  • Cockroaches feed on decaying matter, mould, faecal matter from rodents and birds, and animal carcasses, which can be transmitted into the food production and serving environment via their bodies or excreta.
  • They defecate along their pathways and frequently expel saliva on surfaces to ‘taste’ their environment.
  •  Droppings and bodily secretions stain and leave a foul odour that can permeate infestation areas, food and packaging.
  • Droppings and shed skins contain allergens, and heavy cockroach populations can potentially trigger asthma attacks in both guests and staff.

Cockroach Control

A number of professional treatments are available for control of cockroaches, including sprays, aerosols, dusts, gels and baits. There are strict regulations for control near food handling and storage areas, to prevent contamination of foodstuffs. Our BPCA certified technicians expertise allows them to identify the specific species causing issues and offer the most effective targeted treatment. The use of our Insect Monitor Units (IMU) can discreetly monitor sensitive locations within your premises for signs of activity. Whilst night-time inspections for these nocturnal creatures will better reveal hidden harbourages to pin-point targeted treatments. We also have chemical-free Heat Treatment an effective and suitable solution for sensitive areas within your premise.

Entotherm Heat Treatment

Chemical-free Heat Treatment to eliminate all types of insect pests

Stored Product Insects

Stored product insects (SPIs), also known as pantry pests, include beetles, weevils, moths and mites (which are arachnids) that can infest food items in storage. Most dried food products are susceptible to pest infestation, including cereal products, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, spices, cocoa, rice, pulses, chocolate, flour, dough, semolina, powdered milk, tea and preserved meats. All life stages of insect pests can be within the food simultaneously: eggs, larva, pupa and adult insects.

SPIs are more likely to infest items that have been opened but can also enter packaging made of paper, cardboard, plastic, cellophane and foil, chewing through the packaging material or crawling through folds and seams. Larvae, especially, can make very small entrance holes that are very difficult to detect. SPIs can contaminate large quantities through physical damage, faeces, cocoons, etc. and can introduce microorganisms that can cause further degradation, making food unfit or unacceptable for human consumption.

Common Stored Product pests and the foods they can infest include:

  • Indian meal moth: nuts, dried fruit and grain.
  • Mill moth: flour, rarely feeds on other items.
  • Tropical warehouse moth: stored cereal, nuts, dried fruit, oil seeds and oil cakes.
  • Warehouse moth: cocoa, chocolate confectionery, dried fruit and nuts.
  • Cheese mite: cheese, nuts, dried eggs, fruit, flour, tobacco.
  • Flour or grain mites: cereal, dried vegetable materials, cheese, corn and dried fruits.
  • Beetles & weevils: there is a large variety of species of beetle and weevil that feed on dried foods such as: cereals/grains, flour, seeds, nuts, pulses, dried fruit, chocolate, spices, pasta and processed products.

Stored Product Pest Control

There are some best practices you can follow to help minimise the risk of a stored product infestation, such as storing foods in airtight sturdy containers or in a fridge or freezer where appropriate; keep food storage areas including shelves and cupboards clean, and remove spillages such as flour and crumbs; vacuum the area thoroughly and regularly.

We have a specific SPI monitoring and control integrated pest management approach which we can tailor to suit your individual business needs. In-depth inspections by our BPCA certified staff, thoroughly inspecting your premise and providing a bespoke treatment plan. The use of effective, targeted insecticide sprays to control specific areas of infestation. Our Fumigation solutions allow larger areas to be treated to quickly limit infestations. Chemical-free Heat Treatment is also available to target infested areas and/or machinery to eliminate all stages of SPI life cycle from eggs to adults.

Nuisance Birds

Birds in their natural environment are perfectly harmless; however in some situations nuisance birds (such as pigeons and gulls) can be responsible for damaging premises and transmitting diseases through fouling and associated debris. This can become an issue to the health of customers and staff, putting your business at risk. Feral pigeons carry parasitic pests such as ticks, fleas and bird mites, these insects live on the birds and their droppings but when birds leave the roost the parasites can invade premises in search of new hosts. Pigeons and gulls also harbour serious pathogens, which could make your customers and staff ill.

Hazards to commercial kitchens and hospitality from feral pigeons and gulls include:

  • A health hazard by spreading diseases such as;
  • Salmonella (pigeons and gulls) - a bacterium deposited where pigeons defecate. It can lead to Salmonellosis and Paratyphoid fever.
  • Psittacosis (pigeons and gulls) - also called Ornithosis or pigeon fancier's lung. This is transmitted by inhaling the bacteria from dried droppings or handling feathers of infected birds.
  • Escherichia coli (E.Coli) (gulls) - can lead to illnesses such as gastro-enteritis and septicaemia.
  • Deface and damage buildings and vehicles with their corrosive droppings and fouling entrances, pavements etc., which can become dangerously slippery and a Health & Safety issue.
  • Attack guests sat outside, especially during the breeding season when they are defending their nests and young, as well as stealing food from tables and unsecured rubbish bins.

Bird Deterrents

Our local bird specialists are experienced in dealing with pest birds on hospitality premises and the implications of bird control legislation with any actions taken that affect bird species in the UK, governed by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). We offer discreet, cost-effective feral pigeon and urban gull deterrents that won’t harm the birds or disrupt your business. We provide comprehensive bird deterrent solutions, such as hawking – using specially trained birds of prey (such as Harris Hawks) to deter gulls and other pest birds without harm. Also adaptable, versatile bird netting and gull wire systems that protect your premises, whilst harmlessly deterring birds from landing and establishing a roost on your property.

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