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Flies Pose Greater Risk for Food Processing and Food Retail


Flies are well-known as being one of the culprits for spreading diseases, which is worrying for many industries, especially food and beverage and food production sectors. One single outbreak could cost hundreds of thousands of ringgit lost from product recalls or tampered production. What’s worse, recent studies have shown that hygiene risk from flies could be greater than what was previously reported. This is worrying news as flies are extremely common in Malaysia, with many restaurants and factories experiencing fly infestations, thereby jeopardising food safety standards. Since posing such a huge threat, it is important to understand fly behaviour to successfully prevent and eliminate them.


It is common knowledge that flies encounter many microorganisms and bacteria through their normal behaviour. While there are many different species of flies, they share the same feeding and breeding behaviours, favouring faeces and rotting food sources. Flies come into contact with many bacteria that can cause severe harm to humans. Using several genetic tests, it was found that individual flies can carry hundreds of different bacteria species, many of which are extremely harmful and hazardous. One technique found over 1,300 different types of bacteria present on the flies. For food processing and retail businesses, this is extremely alarming, with preventive and elimination methods becoming much more important than before to ensure safety of the consumers.

Australian bush fly

Bacteria, Diseases and Infections from Flies:

Flies’ bodies have microscopic hair which picks up millions of bacteria from their surroundings. Flies not only carry faecal and rotting matter, they are also home to dangerous parasitic bacteria and pathogens. These can range from causing food spoilage to extreme infections that can mutate and adapt to its surroundings. For example, studies have shown that some of the most prominent bacteria found on flies were; Salmonella which causes food-borne illnesses, E.coli which causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines, and Helicobacter pylori  which can cause ulcers and stomach cancer. A single fly landing on any surface could contaminate food sources that are in close proximity due to these harmful bacteria.

Contamination Methods:

Fruit fly

Flies mainly contaminate our food through three ways; vomiting enzymes during feeding, excreting faeces, and simply landing on surfaces. While the former two are much more revolting in nature, it is the latter that is the most dangerous. Research has found that the main contamination areas of a fly are their feet. Even after many steps, bacteria still remains on the feet of flies and it is sufficient to continue contaminating surfaces. Vomiting and excreting faeces are considered less dangerous as vomiting enzymes only occurs when the fly intends to feast while excretion does not happen every single time. Landing on surfaces happens more frequently and has a higher bacteria count.

Fly Control:


For food production and food retail sectors fly control is extremely important to keep consumers safe, and meet audit compliance. With Rentokil’s integrated fly management (IFM) service, we provide solutions to eliminate flies at every stage of their life cycle. Our IFM is suitable for every level of fly infestation, providing a holistic 4 step programme: exclusion, restriction, treatment and monitoring. Our experts will conduct a preliminary survey, recommend solutions and are trained to conduct the most effective treatment to eliminate flies from your premises. Furthermore, we are constantly striving to innovate our solutions, which has culminated in our insect light trap. The Lumnia range is designed to cater to different customer needs, and can be utilised for both front and back of house operations. With Rentokil, you can be rest assured that your pest problems will be taken care of efficiently, effectively and safely. For more information on flies, visit our website or contact us at 1300 882 911 or fill in the form.