Cockroach 101 for commercial properties

May 5, 2023, 12:00 PM by Fred Speer

Cockroaches are a problem in commercial properties, especially in restaurants and food processing plants. They are attracted to these locations because of the food, moisture, and warmth that is often present. Cockroaches can contaminate food with bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that they pick up while crawling through such unsanitary areas as sewers and garbage dumps.

The disease pathogens that cockroaches can carry and spread, such as Salmonella and E. coli, can cause serious health problems in humans if ingested. In addition, cockroach droppings and exuviae – exoskeletons shed from molting – can trigger allergic reactions in people, especially those with asthma.

Cockroaches reproduce rapidly. They are known to hide in small cracks and crevices, which makes them difficult to detect and eliminate. If left unchecked, they can quickly turn into a major infestation that compromises the safety and quality of the food being produced or served.

It’s important for restaurants and food processing plants, and all commercial properties, to implement strict sanitation practices, schedule regular pest control services, and follow proper food and ingredient storage protocols to prevent cockroach infestations.

The cockroach threat

Multiple cockroach species can be found at commercial properties, particularly restaurants and food processing plants. Two of the most common species include the German and American cockroach.

German cockroaches are small and colored light brown or tan. They can be encountered in office buildings, schools, healthcare facilities, restaurant kitchens, and food processing or distribution facilities. They reproduce rapidly and can infest a property quickly, and prefer warm and humid locations, including stoves and dishwashers in commercial kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms, and in the motor compartments of food processing equipment.

American cockroaches are larger and colored reddish brown. They are often found in dark, humid areas, such as basements, sewers, and drains, where they can access a structure. They are more common in restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, food-processing plants, and hospitals. Their favorite food is the fermenting kind, like rotting fruits and vegetables. American cockroaches are not only a nuisance; they also can carry pathogens that can cause illness in humans.

Other species of cockroaches that can be found in commercial properties include oriental and Turkestan cockroaches. Each species has its own unique characteristics and behaviors, but all

cockroaches pose a threat to food safety if they are allowed to infest a facility. Also, any cockroach found inside a restaurant or food processing facility will raise an immediate red flag with auditors and inspectors.

Preventing cockroaches in commercial properties

Because cockroaches thrive on tiny amounts of crumbs, food waste, or liquids caught between cracks in a production facility floor or piece of processing equipment, it is essential that commercial properties, especially restaurants and food processing facilities, have strong exclusion and sanitation programs in place.

Exclusion: Deny cockroaches access to the inside of buildings through cracks, conduits, under doors, or through other structural flaws by sealing cracks and other openings. Install door sweeps and weatherstripping on doors and windows.

Identify other potential entry points, including items being brought into the building, especially appliances, furniture, boxes, and items that were recently in storage. Inspect incoming shipments of ingredients and bulk products for signs of cockroaches.

Trim shrubbery around buildings to increase light and air circulation, especially near vents, and eliminate ivy or other dense ground covers near the house, as these may harbor cockroaches. Consider installing a layer of gravel about 6 to 12 inches wide around the perimeter of buildings. This will reduce moisture, making this area less hospitable to outdoor cockroaches.

Eliminate plumbing leaks and other sources of moisture, and increase ventilation where condensation is a problem.

Sanitation: Vacuum cracks and crevices to remove food and debris. Vacuuming also will remove cockroaches, shed skins, and egg cases, reducing overall cockroach numbers. Make sure that surfaces where food or beverages have been spilled are cleaned up immediately.

Keep dumpsters and trash cans away from exterior doorways. Special trash cans may be mounted on pedestals in public spaces, like at schools, to keep them off the ground where cockroaches forage. Remove trash, newspapers, magazines, piles of paper bags, rags, boxes, and other items that provide hiding places and harborage.

If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your business and can help your company create an effective year-round pest management program, call Clark Pest Control at (800) 936-3339.