Filipinos love to eat, whether it be street food, fast food, fine dining, or eat-all-you-can buffets. This definitely challenges food service management to be competitive as well as to strictly observe food safety standards to ensure public health.
Tita S summarized the highlights of food safety standards in the Philippines as per the 1987 Philippine constitution and the Food Safety Act of 2013. She also wrote about fly infestation in a particular restaurant. See these related posts: A GLIMPSE OF PHILIPPINE FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS and SAY, SAY, SAY: ARMY NAVY BURGER AND BURRITO, CONCEPCION, TARLAC.
Cockroaches and mice are alarming, but flies are everywhere. I have observed that Filipinos are not so particular about flies hovering around them while they are eating, even when satisfying their hunger for street food. Do you agree?
And tell me, Filipinos, are we not alarmed with our food safety when there are flies in the restaurants we go to? I guess flies cannot be completely eradicated, but for sure, they can be controlled.
Allow Tita S to give you some facts which she researched regarding this matter:
1. Flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches and carry more disease-causing pathogens.1 According to a study done in 2017, flies usually spend their time in garbage, feeding on decaying matter such as rotten food, and human and animal feces, which contain parasites, viruses and bacteria. Picking these pathogens up on their legs, they will transfer these to whatever surface they land on, be it human food or food preparation surfaces of restaurants and homes.2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Flies spread diseases by regurgitating a liquid that contains their saliva and digestive enzymes into your food. This fluid in their saliva and vomit breaks down the solid food into a liquid they can ingest.
Alas, it also contains pathogens that can cause humans to get sick. But that is not all. Flies can also transmit the diseases they carry by urinating and dropping their feces into your food as well as by leaving pathogens on your kitchen counter top or any surface.6
2. Flies excrete wherever they come to rest, and thereby, mechanically transmit diseases.3 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), flies can transmit over 65 different diseases, like cholera, conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, among others. And all these diseases can have a direct impact on a restaurant’s customers and staff’s health.6
The longer a fly is on your food, the higher the chance of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites being transferred to it. It definitely slobbers, vomits and poops all over your food, and can transmit diseases. It is not only annoying but hazardous as well! Better to throw away your food!6
3. Flies do not have any teeth, so they eat by spitting and throwing up on their food. As a fly eats, it usually poops, and if it’s a female, it might lay eggs, too.6
Flies reproduce extremely quickly and speed through the air quickly.1 and 6 Female flies can lay batches of fertilized eggs, with one batch consisting of 150 fertilized eggs, and can lay up to 1,000 eggs during her lifetime, which is about 28 days.3 and 8
4. Flies love dirt and are attracted to rotten food and sugary drinks.6 Flies are like mosquitoes; they can smell their meal from miles away, but the reality is they prefer to have their meals where their breeding grounds are. So, if you eliminate breeding grounds, you get rid of flies!9 Ensure high levels of hygiene in your kitchen and restaurant.6
5. There are many types of flies which can invade a food service establishment such as house flies, drain flies, fruit flies, vinegar flies, phorid flies, and blow flies. Treatment for each fly is different.7
6. Restaurants must have a well-managed pest control program for rodents, roaches and flies. An inspection must be made to determine where pests are harboring, hiding and traveling so that appropriate pesticides will be applied.7
7. There should be a positive air flow for an enclosed restaurant with a commercial AC unit and an exhaust fan in the kitchen. Management must make sure that the AC unit is putting enough recovery air back in the building to make up for the air it is exhausting. With enough air to cool right, comes less flies. Or, the flies will huddle in an area, to be easily eliminated.9
8. Another alternative to keep the flies away from your kitchen and restaurant is to invest in the so-called fly lights. They are fly traps that emit UV light and will help you keep the flies at bay. Commercial kitchen fly control units like electric fly killing units or sticky traps are also handy tools in keeping these pests away from your kitchen as well as eradicating any existing fly problem.6 The electric gadgets can be strategically located in a building as long as they are not located close to food (which might be contaminated with zapped insects).7
9. Check all trash dumpsters, trash bins, sinks and sink drains, floor drains, kitchen equipment, loose floor tiles, wall voids, electrical boxes, any hollow tubing on appliance legs, behind and under equipment, and any other crevice, crack or void where pests may have taken up residence. Glue boards should be placed near suspected infestations to monitor suspected problem areas and to localize where to apply treatments.
There should be tight weather seals around doors and windows. Caulk all openings leading to wall voids and never leave doors or unscreened windows open. Remember, treating for pests outside may also stop them from invading indoors.7
Screen vents, doors and windows to prevent fly infestations. Sometimes large fans, called “air curtains” are effective at keeping flies out of restaurants.4
10. Install fans in your kitchen and restaurant. Another trick you can use to keep the flies away is to invest in cooling fans that that will keep the air circulating and the flies from landing on your food. Mesh netting on your windows and doorways will also help with fly control for restaurants with open doorways and windows because the mesh will keep the insects out while you will be able to keep your customers cool, thanks to the open windows.6
11. Well, if you cannot get rid of flies by denying them breeding grounds, why not trap them? Seafood can be used as bait, below or near a fly trap tape.9 Conduct a thorough inspection to locate breeding areas of pests. Apply fly baits to the trash collection areas. Flies can easily enter when customers or employees enter a restaurant, or when trash is taken out. You can also incorporate screening vents on windows or doors. Scan for problem locations, such as standing water left unchecked, and any uncleaned areas.
12. Sanitation is crucial in preventing flies from infesting a restaurant kitchen. Sinks, floors, kitchen equipment, and trash bins/pails, drains and drain traps must be cleaned as often as possible, especially before leaving overnight.7 All counter spaces and chopping blocks should be wiped down regularly throughout the day.5
All food should remain refrigerated when not being used so it will not be left standing. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to prevent fly entry.
Depending on your restaurant, you might even be able to use an “air curtain” or large fans pointed at entry points to help keep flies from gaining access to your kitchen.5
Sink and floors drains, as potential breeding grounds for many types of flies, should be kept extremely clean through an enzyme-based cleaner.7
13. Train all new employees on established sanitation procedures and the proper protocol for resolving a possible fly problem. Constantly educate your staff on the importance of maintaining a high level of hygiene in the establishment so the risks of a fly infestation will be minimized. A pest control program should be consistently implemented daily.6 and 10
Employees must be trained and be diligent to scrub the kitchen tops, tables, and chopping boards clean. Additionally, the indoor and outdoor trash cans should always be covered, and customers’ food remains properly disposed of because those will be the first to attract flies. The restaurant tables and floors should also be wiped every time a customer leaves which will ensure extra cleanliness and less possibility that your customers can get sick by eating at your restaurant. The staff should constantly check on the food in the kitchen, and dispose of the food that is past its expiration date. All empty bottles that contain sugary drinks should also be kept away from the eating area as flies are attracted to sugary substances.6
To summarize, here are some suggestions for employees11:
a. keep counters, appliances and fixtures free of food, and clean up spills immediately. Inspect wheel castors, table supports, and other hard to clean areas regularly for food debris.
b. Damp mops and towels left to ferment can quickly become a breeding place for bacteria and pests in a food service area. Dry out wet tools and if possible, keep them covered in a bin. Never leave a wet mop propped against a wall. Instead, store with strands hanging down in a dry, well-circulated area.
c. Use a heavy-duty brush to scour pipes above the water trap. Regularly maintain drains with a bio-enzymatic cleaner – one that is bacteria and enzyme-based – to eliminate the grease and slime that small drain flies feed on and lay eggs in.
d. Eliminate areas where water may pool, paying particular attention to drains, corners, cracks and crevices. Use a squeegee or wet/dry vacuum to remove pooled water on floors.
e. Run garbage disposals for an extra 30 seconds after waste has passed through, running water down the drain at the same time.
f. Always keep trash containers covered, using self-closing lids whenever possible. Empty receptacles frequently and keep the areas around them free of debris and rotting food, especially vegetables and fruits. Rinse containers regularly with hot water to eliminate bits of food or juice, then clean and disinfect.
g. Do not allow windows or doors to be propped open. Repair torn screens and replace missing caulk, weather stripping and joint mortar around the building. Crevices and gaps could provide an easy entryway for pests.
h. Keep exterior garbage cans at least 25 feet from entrances. Use a mechanical spray device with a disinfectant solution to clean, disinfect and deodorize exterior trash receptacles Do not stack, store, or plant anything next to building openings.
i. Drain flies may be small, but they can become a huge problem for your food service establishment if not under control. Simply practice a few simple maintenance procedures each day to make your kitchen area uninviting to these pests while keeping your operation safely humming along.
j. The bucket-and-mop technique leaves behind plenty of soil for flies and other pests to enjoy. Systems that use always-fresh cleaning solution and incorporate a wet/dry vac to remove anything left on the floors are much more successful. Use a squeegee on tables, counters, bars and kitchen lines to make sure no food residue remains at the end of a busy day.12
14. A food stall owner in Singapore hangs a bunch of chilies near cooked and uncooked food where flies are likely to land to keep them away from the food preparation and storage areas.9
15. Apart from commercial repellents, you can also plant herbs that repel flies around the restaurant or place them on the windowsills.9
The picture of the fly in the featured image of this post came from the free photo library of WordPress.
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