Mitigating Food Safety Risk Through Fly Management

Pest Press Newsletter

flies on watermelon

Customers who see flies in your foodservice or hospitality establishment may appear to simply swat them away, but they are likely complaining to their companions (then posting on social media) and questioning your overall sanitation. Because establishments with sanitation issues are four times more likely to have flies, and flies are vectors for foodborne illness, their distrust is not unwarranted. 

Flies can carry more than 200 pathogens including Salmonella and E. coli, which they can transmit to food. The common house fly, in particular, is especially notorious for this, as it “tastes” every surface on which it lands. Because it can only consume liquidized food, the fly first regurgitates onto its food source to liquidize it, and then ingests the liquid. Not only does it deposit these specks of mouth secretions (as well as feces) on surfaces, it can carry bacteria on its body and legs from surface to surface – e.g., from garbage on which it was feeding to the food you are producing. 

One fly may not seem to be a major problem, but the ability of a single adult female housefly to lay 75-150 eggs at a time – which can grow from egg to adult in just under a week in optimal conditions – means that infestations can quickly arise.

Solutions. There are steps you can take to help keep flies out and prevent them from becoming a problem. The most effective is developed through a partnership between your facility staff and pest management provider, taking an outside-in approach:

  1. Exterior – Reducing populations around the outside of your facility is key to helping reduce fly pressure on the inside. After conducting an exterior inspection, your pest elimination service specialist can determine areas for fly station placement, which can help reduce fly populations by 50%. The inspection will also focus on determining any fly breeding sites and making recommendations for their removal (e.g., spilled garbage in/around dumpsters, animal droppings, grass clippings, etc.).
  2. Entry points – To reduce fly entrance opportunities, your service specialist will inspect for and report structural or sanitation conditions that can be conducive to large flies. These could include recommendations such as keeping doors closed; installing air doors or plastic strips; ensuring positive, outgoing air pressure; cleaning and/or relocating trash and/or employee break areas; etc. The specialist also may advise that he/she make pesticide applications to fly resting sites.
  3. Interior – Even with an active exterior program, it can be possible for flies to get it, so it is critical to have a facility-protection program by which any entering flies are quickly captured or killed. This can be accomplished through the discreet placement of fly-attracting light traps or sticky traps in strategic areas. Interior spot treatments also can be used to quickly eliminate flies when needed.
  4. Maintenance – By acting on the recommendations of the specialist and implementing exclusion and prevention strategies, the facility staff fulfills its side of the partnership and helps ensure long-term fly control. 

Reducing fly activity to mitigate food safety risk requires an integrated approach, starting from the outside with exterior treatments and equipment, followed by exclusion to reduce fly entry, interior treatments and fly traps to kill flies once they gain entry, and ongoing maintenance of the program by both the pest management provider and facility staff.

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