As a business owner you often have to put yourself in your customers’ shoes – you wouldn’t want flies in your home, landing on your food and kitchen surfaces – and you can be sure that if a customer decides to eat from your business, be it a fast-food outlet, restaurant, bar or pub they won’t want flies there either. Flies and insects are pests and health hazards and also need to be considered if your business is a residential care home, children’s nursery, school or hospital.
Insects or their eggs can be trapped in foodstuffs. They can contaminate it by transmitting bacteria picked up from previous objects on which they have landed. This can spread disease. Obviously customer safety is paramount – a business’ reputation can be damaged by a poor health and safety record. Customers will leave – put off by dirt and negligence – and income will decrease. It is important to consult the legislation fully to avoid any breach of the regulations, but the following three acts outline a few health and safety rules.
The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, states that if your business is involved in the storage, manufacture, transport, or sale of food, you as the owner must take steps to control the infestation or notify the local authority. Furthermore, the Food Safety Act states if you supply, sell, advertise or are in possession of food, which is not fit for human consumption, then you are breaking the law. The act also states food and food products must be kept in a good condition away and free from contamination or damage by pests.
The third act, Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations, supports the above but goes further saying windows should – where food is prepared, processed or treated – be fitted with insect screens. Rubbish storage areas must be designed to prevent pests from entering.
Punishments for serious and acute violations against health and safety regulations range from a sixth month to a two-year stint in prison and up to a £5,000 fine per offence. But of course it must be stressed that these are severe penalties for severe breaches.
The local authority can close businesses, serve prohibition orders, recover incurred expenses and perhaps disqualify those involved in catering for up to two years. Obviously no sensible business person would ever allow a situation to get so bad, so the key is to put measures in place to avoid a situation escalating to that stage. The best way to do this is to seal your entrances – fly screens over your windows and doors can be custom designed to fit your type of business and adhere to the letter of the law.
A framed mesh could slot easily into a window or door and various mechanisms like roller and hanging meshes allow for flexibility. Choosing the size of mesh will also affect which insect types are kept out. As a businessperson you want to give your customers the best possible service and products, and as a professional in the food industry, you know your legal responsibilities towards pest control. It is up to you to show you really are clued up about food hygiene and care for your customers and are not about to leave them with a nasty taste in their mouth.