The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has warned catering businesses they are gambling on their future if they fail to properly protect themselves against pests.
Hygiene regulations spell out the requirement for every food business to put adequate pest prevention measures in place but the national trade body fears too many are failing their obligations – or ignoring them altogether.
And it says catering companies which cut corners on pest control are in danger of causing irreparable damage to their business.
The warning comes just two days after Birmingham City Council revealed that Mitchells & Butlers had been fined more than £100,000 for a mice infestation at one of its city centre sites last year.
Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, said: “Rats, mice and cockroaches are all attracted by food and warmth and that’s why premises involved in the supply or provision of food need to have a robust hygiene system in place. That covers cleaning, storage and preparation and should also involve pest proofing work combined with regular inspections.
“The repercussions of an infestation can be overwhelming. It can not only cause big problems with customers and the local authority, it could also cause long-term reputational damage. So owners of catering businesses who regard pest control as a peripheral matter or an unnecessary expense are taking a massive risk.”
The non-profit BPCA says proofing work and daily inspections should be integral to the operation of every catering business.
Forrester added: “Those who ignore the subject until they see signs of activity might save themselves a bit of money in the short term. But they’re likely to end up with a far bigger bill in the long run and could pay an even higher price if an infestation affects their premises. It simply doesn’t make sense for people to leave the future of their business in the hands of fate.”
Mr Forrester insists it’s important to ensure pest management is carried out by a professional company.
He said: “The pest control industry is crowded by unqualified traders who won’t necessarily do the job properly. They might be the cheapest option, but they can land businesses in big trouble because they’re not properly trained and might not be compliant.
“Pest management should not be a simple box-ticking exercise and food outlets should therefore ensure controllers have the right credentials. All of the technicians and companies registered with the BPCA are fully qualified and up to date with the latest products, techniques and legislation. So businesses that seek help through our online search tool will be assured of a professional and compliant service.”