By Judy Black, BCE, VP Quality Assurance and Technical Services, Orkin, LLC
As “business as usual” takes on a whole new meaning, restaurateurs are adjusting how they approach the fundamental focus of keeping their restaurant clean and safe. With concerns over the transmission of pathogens now top of mind, many business owners are keenly aware of how their operations handle cleanliness. And while recent headlines have focused on the ways in which employees conduct themselves, drawing attention to the value of wearing masks, it’s important to be equally diligent about foodservice facilities. Clean operations start with a clean restaurant.
Whether COVID-19 caused your restaurant to close or operate in a limited capacity, it’s still critical to keep your space free of pests, as well as pathogens. Just because a restaurant was closed, doesn’t mean it’s still vacant. In fact, it may have been more susceptible to pest infestations as decreased traffic allows pest hot spots to go undisturbed and unmonitored. This also holds true with restaurants focusing on curbside and delivery, since their dining areas have remained empty.
Operational disruptions allow rats, mice, cockroaches and other pests to go undetected. Thankfully, there are steps restaurateurs can take to help mitigate pest and pathogen problems, during and after quarantine.
1. Follow sanitation best practices.
Since quarantine regulations were implemented abruptly, many businesses didn’t have the opportunity to take proper precautions before closing. With that, staff may have been pressed for time when considering important cleaning and sanitation steps that help deter pests.
As your restaurant reopens, prioritize taking out the trash. Garbage buildup not only creates a health hazard but also attracts pests. If your restaurant is still closed, make sure all food is stored and sealed. All floors and surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized, so pests don’t settle in the grime.
2. Continue preventive efforts.
For good reason, pest control providers have been deemed essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and are allowed to operate during this time. Pest control is essential, especially in light of COVID-19, because pests harbor health risks for both employees and customers.
That said, now is an opportune time for an inspection by your pest control provider. They can conduct a service while practicing safety guidelines to help stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. These guidelines include social distancing and proper hygiene outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. Regularly disinfect surfaces.
Disinfect high-touch areas regularly because surfaces can be re-contaminated after using a disinfectant treatment. For foodservice facilities, disinfectants rated “no rinse required on food contact surfaces” category D2 by NSF International are ideal, since food can safely contact the surface shortly after treatment.
The new Orkin® VitalClean™ service uses an EPA-registered disinfectant labeled for use against a wide variety of pathogens, and it is on EPA’s “List N” of products that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. When applied at full strength in accordance with the product label, this powerful disinfectant will kill 100% of bacteria and viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces. It will also sanitize soft, porous surfaces, making it a premier option to effectively disinfect your restaurant.
While we’ll likely feel the effects of this pandemic for the foreseeable future, following these guidelines will help minimize its impact on restaurants in the days and months to come.
Judy Black is the Vice President of Quality Assurance and Technical Services for Rollins, Inc. She is a board-certified entomologist and PMP Hall of Fame recipient. Black has more than 30 years of experience in the pest management field; and is an acknowledged leader in the industry. For more information, email JBlack@rollins.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.