You’re investing a lot of capital in your dream business – your own restaurant! You have written a business plan and detailed the marketing strategies. Your concept, the food and pricing, your target market, employees to hire and a forecast of expenses and income – it’s all systems go.
Yet what many budding restaurateurs and people in the food business overlook is a round-the-clock maintenance of hygiene and sanitation. And this is a significant aspect of food safety and protecting the health of the employees and customers through prevention of diseases that are food and water-borne. Sure, proprietors make sure that the staff sweep and mop the floors of debris and food scraps and clean the counters and sinks regularly.
But what about the hours when the store is closed for business? Any food establishment, no matter how spic and span, is an undeniable attraction for mice and rats. It might be the smell because diners and eateries can’t get rid of glorious food odor no matter how clean it is. These critters come in when it’s quiet and dim, and sniff around looking for food. If they can’t find any, they chew on the cupboards and containers and leave their droppings for you to discover in the morning.
You put traps and baits but they still come. Check that housekeeping after business hours is thorough. Food scraps can accumulate under and behind stoves, refrigerators and other kitchen equipment. Spillage that is not completely cleaned up is easily detected by rodents.
The infrastructure of your establishment is usually something that you don’t consider when you are looking for solutions to your rat problem. According to Rove Pest Control, a pest exterminator with offices in Minneapolis, rodent control should include interior and exterior premises. If these pests are barred from entry in the first place, you wouldn’t need all those traps and baits.
There are many ways mice and rats enter your establishment. Even if your business is on a higher floor of a building, mice and rats can climb and go in. Look for holes and gaps and plug them. Any opening that a pen can fit into is big enough for a mouse to go through. Then seal them with hard sealants that can resist rat and mice gnawing. These are cement, mortar, brush strips and steel wire mesh. Do not use spray foam as it is easily chewable.
Here are places you should look out for because gaps are likely to be present:
- Gaps under external door are very common and rodents just squeeze their bodies through and enter. Fit a brush strip on the bottom of the door to close the gap.
- Spaces between pipes, cables and the external wall are another entryway. If your building is being constructed or renovated, make sure the contractor does a good job of properly fitting pipes and wirings through external walls.
- Spaces hidden by suspended ceilings should be checked. Usually, suspended ceilings have wires going through the walls and rodents can pass through the holes if they are oversized in relation to the diameter of the wires.
- Broken or open drains are access points for rats coming from the sewer. Make a survey of the drains in the sinks and the toilets and repair broken ones immediately. Open drains should also be covered.
Marie Miller is a small business owner and writes about topics related to entrepreneurship.