Trading Standards Institute Advice

Choosing a pest control contractor

This leaflet is for all food businesses including those involved in food preparation and production, retail premises, catering, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and takeaway and fast-food shops.

What is pest control management?
Pest control management involves identifying and dealing with potential risks from food pests before they turn into a major problem and contaminate our food.

Good pest control should concentrate on preventing the pests gaining access to food stocks and food rooms in the first place.

Even if you discover a pest problem before a customer's health is put at risk, having to throw stock away because of damage caused by pests can prove to be very expensive to any business. Managing pest control is part of good business practice

Pest contractors
You may need to contract an outside company to help you deal with pests.

Using a company to help keep your premises pest-free or to get rid of a pest problem does not mean that you can pass all responsibility on to them. However, a contract with an outside company can be a vital part of your pest-control management system. This will not only help to keep your workplace healthy and prevent food from becoming contaminated, but it will also help prove a 'due diligence' (legal defence) if your business needs to show the authorities that you did all you could to prevent an infestation.

A good pest controller is not just someone who turns up to put traps and poison down. They should inspect and monitor conditions, highlight problems advise you on how to prevent pests and suggest improvements where necessary.

You should consider your pest control contractor to be part of the team whose role it is to keep food pests away from your premises.

In-house pest control management
It is not a legal requirement to have a pest control contract BUT it is a legal requirement that you manage pest control. Even with the help of an external contract, a pest controller cannot do their job without there being 'in-house controls'.

Cleaning and disinfection
Make sure you've got a cleaning schedule for your premises and equipment. Areas that do not get cleaned regularly will provide ideal places where pests can 'hide'.

Managing waste
Do not store waste indoors. Store it away from the building, in bins with lids.

Make sure that the bin area is kept clear of rubbish and clean easily the area regularly.

Have the rubbish and recycling collected often enough so that the bins do not overflow.

Training staff
Staff need to play their part in pest-control management. They should report not only any signs of infestation but also any situation that may lead to infestation.

They will need to be trained in how to spot signs of pest damage and infestation.

Storing food safely
You must store food and non-food products (such as crockery equipment and packaging ) off the floor, and away from the walls where possible. Where food packaging is opened, the contents should be stored in clean, lidded containers. This will ensure that the food does not attract pests and is protected from contamination.

Keep stock rotated, making sure you follow the FIFO (first in first out) rule for storing food and non-food products.

Maintaining buildings outside and inside
This is the best form of pest prevention. Make sure that there are no gaps under doors or through the structure - especially where pipes and services enter the building.

Some food businesses may choose to keep their pest control in-house. This can be an advantage because staff may be more familiar with the layout of the premises and could respond quickly to any problem. However, in-house pest control management should include the same training, and have access to the same facilities, as an outside company.

Choosing a pest control contractor
When choosing a pest control company, you should get a clear quote for their services. Although it may be a good idea to get two or three quotes, you should consider more than just price. Value for money will depend on how efficiently the company does the work and the level of service you want.

A company that quotes an all-inclusive fee over the phone may offer an excellent service. However, you may prefer a representative to carry out a survey of your premises and give recommendations as to the levels of service offered, along with the fees they charge for each level.

It is very important that a company that works on your premises is able to show that they have suitable insurance to cover them.

Pests are no more welcome in a garage or garden centre, but a restaurant business needs to take extra care when it comes to deciding how to deal with a pest problem. So the pest control company you choose should be experienced in providing services to food businesses. They should also show that they have a 'complete' approach to pest control by giving you advice on how to prevent infestation rather than just dealing with the results.

Pest-control services
Some pest-control companies may offer a service that covers only a limited range of pests, for example rats or flying insects.

Any quote they give you should clearly set out how often they will visit your premises and how quickly they can get to you if you have a pest infestation.

  • do they work seven days a week ?
  • do they offer a service around the clock (24 hours a day)?

Some companies may also be able to offer services such as supplying and fitting fly screens to windows and doors and electronic fly killers. They will also be able to arrange a maintenance service for the equipment they provide.

Ask to see references from their existing customers so you can confirm which services they provide and how well they carry them out.

Staff at pest control companies
As with most businesses, the services pest control companies offer will only be as good as the staff carrying out the work.

Their staff should be trained not only to identify pest infestation but to work safely and carefully in food businesses. They should be trained to work to health and safety regulations, particularly COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health). The methods and chemicals they use should fall within the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1997.

Check that the company belongs to a national organisation. Find out whether the company employs staff who have a certificate of proficiency from a recognised organisation such as the British Pest Control Association or the National Pest Technicians Association.

Inspection reports
Following each inspection, the company should report back to you giving details of any action they have taken, the chemicals they have used and where they have used them.

Keep these reports on file as they will help identify any trends in pest problems and provide a visiting environmental health officer with evidence of any action you have taken.

More information
You will find further guidance in our other leaflets on this website. Information can also be found on the Food Standards Agency (opens in a new window) website.

Alternatively, contact your local environmental health service for advice.

Please note
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance.

© 2017 itsa Ltd.