German cockroaches were once the number one pest in commercial buildings. Advances in cockroach baiting and our understanding of how to treat for these pests has improved over the years. Therefore, problems aren’t nearly as prevalent as they once were. However, German cockroaches in commercial kitchens are still a common issue, despite the best of efforts of kitchen staff to keep them out.
Here are the top four ways that German cockroaches get into food prep areas. We also offer a few tips that restaurant managers or food purveyor can take to reduce the risk of infestation.
Number 1: On incoming supplies and goods
Likelihood: Fairly common
How: Delivery trucks could be prime targets for German cockroaches to hide out. Delivery trucks can become infested when they pick up infested products at a distribution warehouse or even a food manufacturing facility. Or, cockroaches could be left behind from previous shipments in the truck and make their way into clean product.
Additionally, where these vehicles are parked in the evenings, the routes and stops they make during the day, or even how these vehicles are cleaned and serviced against pests, are unknowns that can increase your risk.
How to overcome: Inspect all deliveries carefully. Unpack things like bar napkins in back-of-house, before they are placed in front-of-house. Remove items from outer boxes and dispose of the cardboard immediately.
Have your pest management company inspect and monitor storage areas. Finally, if you notice a rise in sightings after a particular shipment or delivery is made, it might be a good idea to have your pest management company inspect the vendor associated with those shipments. They may be bringing their pest issues to your restaurant.
Number 2: Vendors such as outside cleaning companies.
Likelihood: Somewhat common
How: Third-party vendors who come into your restaurant to perform cleaning, make repairs, or provide maintenance (plumbers, carpenters, etc.), visit many locations where they may unwittingly pick up and transport these unwanted guests to your place of business.
How to overcome: On a semi-regular basis, meet with these vendors to perform visual inspections of their equipment, the tools they might use, and their vehicles, to ensure you aren’t seeing signs of German cockroaches.
Number 3: On the personal possessions of staff
Likelihood: Very common
How: Staff and employees are your most valuable asset, but they can also be the source of a problem, usually without knowing it. Your employees may visit gyms, second jobs that have infestations, or bring things from home that may have been exposed to these persistent pests.
How to overcome: If possible, have designated locker areas for storage of personal items, ideally away from the kitchen and food prep areas. If this isn’t possible, have a designated area for personal item storage. Have your pest control company regularly monitor and inspect lockers or areas where personal items are stored. Require regular locker or personal area cleanouts and have your pest control company treat the area to keep it pest-free.
If the problems in these areas persist, provide your employees with large zip lock bags. Don’t allow permanently placed items like radios/televisions from home to be kept or left in the kitchen area. Keep unassigned lockers locked so your employees don’t use them for overfill storage or trash.
Consider offering to subsidize pest management for your employees. You may be able to work with your pest management company to offer a discount program for home pest management. Learn more about our PestPerks Program here.
Addressing potential introduction issues with an employee can be a very sensitive topic. It is often embarrassing for the employee and uncomfortable for you, so it is best to address issues in private. Involve your human resources department if necessary.
Number 4: On your guests
Likelihood: Not very common
How: Not unlike your employees, your guests may have issues in their homes or possibly are coming from a location that had issues. German cockroaches could use them as a free ride into a new home.
How to overcome: Simply have your pest management company monitor and inspect dining rooms, restrooms, and the bar area. A reputable and thorough pest management company will help you to professionally monitor for signs and indications. They’ll also take steps to help protect the areas adjacent to or near your food prep areas.