How Stored Product Insects Can Contaminate a Restaurant’s Food
Restaurant owners and diners alike always dread the sight of flies, cockroaches, and rodents. After all, how can you eat or cook in peace if pests and insects are scurrying around in a restaurant?
Although these pests get a bad rap for many good reasons, did you know that there are other pests that pose an equally serious threat? These pests are none other than stored product insects.
Food preparation and storage areas can attract various stored product insects. Also called pantry pests, these insects may range from beetles to moths that can infest food items often found in the pantries or kitchens of restaurants. These items include beans, sweets, cheese, dried fruits, grains, nuts, meats, and spices.
When left untreated and unchecked, stored product insects can damage and contaminate valuable food supplies in your restaurant, and worse, it may even result in full kitchen closure. It is even common for these insects to secrete chemicals that might affect and change the taste of food. Once ingested, the larvae of these insects may even cause allergic reactions or irritate a person’s digestive tract.
Due to the quick reproduction process of these insects, it is more than critical to deal with infestations sooner than later.
Why Restaurant Owners Should Worry about Stored Product Insects
Stored product insects can have adverse effects on your restaurant in numerous ways. These include the following:
- If any of your restaurant staff breaks open a container infested with these pests, it may decrease their productivity because they need to get rid of the contents, identify the uncontaminated product that can still be used, replace the spoiled items, and clear up the mess.
- Stored product insects breed inside the products. While there, they can leave behind their larvae, eggs, exoskeletons, and other parts of their body. These can contaminate your food items and create unhygienic conditions. The moment the infestation reaches a particular size, these insects will move outside the product and might go somewhere else.
- These insects can attack various kinds of foods, including barley, beans, corn, grains, nuts, wheat, whole rice, and others.
- Widespread and more serious infestations may have several sources, which can make them even more challenging to address and control.
- Unchecked infestations of stored product insects may potentially lead to inspection and health code violations. Therefore pest control is a vital need for food businesses.
Common Types of Stored Product Insects
Proper identification of stored product insects is the key step to determining how to control them correctly and successfully. Although stored product insects may vary based on the specific food source, the conditions in your restaurant, and your location, the following are the 3 most common types you might encounter.
Indian Meal Moths
Indian meal moths can grow to a length of 5/8 of an inch, with less than an inch wingspan, and a colour combination of grey and brownish red. The moths spin silk at the bottom of the product packaging once they begin to come out. It is also typical to discover webbing within the packaging.
There will be discolouration on the food in the case of heavy infestation. These stored product insects can infest beans, biscuits, chocolate, dried fruits, flour, nuts, seeds, and many other types of stored food items.
Confused and Red Flour Beetles
While their habits and biology are the same, what sets red flour beetles apart from their confused cousins is their ability to fly. Both beetles are reddish brown with a length of 1/8th of an inch. They can also breed throughout the year in heated buildings.
Female beetles can lay about 300 to 400 eggs, with the adult beetles living up to three years or even longer. A greyish tint is noticeable in flour and processed foods with a heavy infestation of these beetles.
Merchant and Saw-toothed Grain Beetles
These beetle species are typically found infesting oats, processed grain, processed grain, and pet foods. They can also attack breakfast foods, cereals, chocolate, dried fruits, pasta, and rice. These pests have a size of 1/10th of an inch and vary in colour from dark brown to brown.
Saw-toothed beetles cannot fly but merchant grain beetles can. They also multiply fast, with a single female producing around 285 eggs that can get deposited in food items. It also doesn’t take long for large populations to develop, forcing adults to leave the infested foods to look for new sources. They can invade nearby containers and cause more widespread infestations.
How to Address Infestations of Stored Product Insects
As mentioned earlier, stored product insects tend to multiply fast, which means it would be better for you and your restaurant to identify and treat an infestation sooner than later. Here are some steps you can take once you find evidence of the presence of these insects and their larvae or eggs.
- Contaminated products must be isolated right away. You also need to quarantine the area until a proper inspection is carried out.
- Make sure you also check for signs of infestation on other adjacent inventory.
- Once you have treated or removed the infested inventory, don’t forget to vacuum the shelves and cabinets. Use water and soap to wash the shelves and storage areas.
- Watch out for any maintenance problems that likely contributed to the infestation. Search for cracks in floors or walls where these insects can hide. Make sure you also look into hard-to-reach areas around equipment.
Don’t let the infestation of stored product insects affect your restaurant business negatively. Always monitor and inspect food shipments to keep these pests out of your business. Better yet, be sure to work with professionals who specialize in pest control Dublin to address any problems that may occur as soon as possible.
The experts in pest control Dublin will help identify the presence of these insects and the cause of infestation. Early detection of these insects can save you and your restaurant from more serious troubles down the road.