Rodent Control in Food Businesses

Rodents can be a nightmare for all food businesses. It seems like they appear out of nowhere and disappear into thin air at random. Or do they? Environmental hygienists tell us that in the western world we are never more than ten feet away from a rat, on average. This is quite startling news because this means that rat concentrations may be higher than ever before in history. With the reported upsurge in the levels of reported food poisoning, particularly with reference to salmonella, e. coli and lysteria, the presence of rodents must be controlled professionally within food preparation areas.

In the days when sewers ran open in the middle of the streets of all towns to see rats scurrying around everywhere was no great thing. Nowadays, many of us get very fearful when we see a rat or mouse. It may be common to see rats around farm houses in the countryside but in urban domestic environments if a rat is seen indoors emergency calls will be made to the exterminator.

Rats are not fun to have around the house. They leave the smell of their urine in places they hide and the smell is very hard to get rid of. My house was once targeted by a rat when it was being renovated and we had a real job getting rid of the thing. It decided to set up shop in a washing machine of all places. The smell coming from the washing machine was so bad that I decided to buy a new one and have the old one taken away by the trash collectors.

Like any animal species rodents need an environment upon which they can thrive. They need warmth, food, water and a place to live. Rodents are social animals and do not like to live solitary lives. This means that any environment they decide to live in must be able to support several individuals.

It is our common belief that rodents will come because a slice of bread was left out or because there were a few crumbs that spilled on the floor. This notion is not quite true. Rodents need more than just a solitary piece of food.

Food businesses can be ideal places for rodents to thrive because they can find environments suitable to support whole colonies around food outlets. By using the term environment I relate to the following. Your premises, the neighbouring premises, the drainage system, your roof, the garbage collection area, your store rooms, other store rooms in your immediate area such as bakeries, butchers, vegetable stores, the condition of housing around your business and many other possible factors. All of these elements go towards creating an environment in which rodents can thrive.

There is one thing you must know about rodents. Anywhere they can squeeze their head through they can get their whole body through in a matter of a couple of seconds. Rats will swim through a drain water to trap to squeeze through the grate of a drain. They have no problem doing this.

Highly populated areas are good environments in which to open all sorts of food businesses but they are also perfect environments for rodents. As humans we have developed the ability to control environments and the critical point about pest control in food businesses is the control of the environment around your business.

This is no short order. As I have already suggested there are many factors which contribute to the environment in which your business is situated, from the perspective of a rat or mouse. Firstly there is the question of resident rodent infestation. Is your business situated upon an existing rodent problem? It is a lot harder to get rid of rodents that have inhabited your surroundings for decades than it is to prevent the infestation of rats and mice. This is due to the fact they have the advantage of knowing the terrain like the back of their little fury hands whereas you may be new to the lay of the land.

Infrastructure includes the following areas, drains and sewers, outside walls and piping, rendering, wall cavities, areas under roofs, ovens (especially ovens with insulation), cellars, dry store rooms, trash can areas, box collection areas, vegetation around your areas including trees, neighboring businesses of all types, boxes with stored equipment especially if it is not often used, linen areas, service cupboards and toilet areas.

The places that rodents can inhabit are countless. The key to controlling the presence of rodents in your business is as I have already said to control THEIR potential environment. You must think from the rodents perspective. You must control everything that goes on both in and around your business. Another good indicator to the presence of rats is the presence of cats. Cat are another pest that will inhabit environments which can support them. More often than not they share these environments quite happily with rats. Alley cats are not good ratters because they don’t need them for food. Why should they fight a rat if they have scraps to fed off?

Controlling the environment in which your business is situated is all about a working system and having the staff to do it. Chefs and waiters must not deal in pest control. They must never contaminate themselves by cleaning contaminated areas. All responsible businesses must hire general staff to make sure the area inside and outside the area is kept spotless at all times. Chefs waiters and sore workers must also insure that areas under their direct responsibility and hygiene level are kept hygienic and tidy at all times. Any restaurant team that finishes their shift just ten minutes before going home cannot clean the business properly. At least one hour of solid cleaning is required, twice daily at least, to keep a food preparation business environments clean and controlled from a vermin aspect.

Also, pest control contractors must make fortnightly visits to appraise the vermin presence in and around your business. Likewise drain pumps must be carried out at least once a month by an authorized contracting or municipal authority.

Only when you pay attention to every detail concerning the hygienic state in around your business can you be reasonably assured that you are protecting your customers against disease which is transmitted by rodents and other pests.

How to Build a Strong Pinterest Profile for Your Food Business

Your food business needs to be on Pinterest. If you’re like most business owners, you probably think Pinterest and social media as a whole is a waste of time. Well it’s not.

If you don’t already know, Pinterest is the newest social site to hit the mainstream and it can be addictive. Most of the users are women, so if your product or service is marketed to women, you need to be on Pinterest now.

Before you get overwhelmed with yet another social media darling, take a few minutes to build yourself a strong Pinterest profile and a strategy for the best way to use it for your food business.

#1 Separate Your Personal Pinterest from Your Business Pinterest

You can have more than one Pinterest account. Simply send yourself an invitation so you can have a personal account and a business one. Do this as soon as possible because it takes a while for the team at Pinterest to send you the invite.

#2 Create a Username That Prospects and Customers Will Recognize

People will search for you on Pinterest. If you already have a Facebook and/or Twitter business profile try to keep them consistent with your Pinterest profile. If you can’t get the exact name try adding “biz” to the end of the name. This will create continuity and make it easier for people to find you on any given site.

#3 Add an Image of Your Logo

Include an image of your logo if it is something people will recognize right away once they land on your Pinterest page. If you don’t have a logo you can create an image of the business name, use the header from your website, or even use a picture of your flagship product. If you’re a service provider or if there is a face to your business (like Martha or Rachel), upload a picture of that person. Just make sure that whatever you use, it is consistent through all social media websites.

#4 Your About Paragraph

Add a short description in your “About” page. Instead of listing your bio or a bunch of website addresses, keep it short and emphasize the benefits of your product or business. For example, if your food business is dedicated to gourmet party appetizers your bio might be as simple as “Gourmet appetizers delivered right to your door.” Or “The easy way to serve hand-crafted appetizers at your next party…in 20 minutes or less.”

#5 Add Follow Buttons

When you’re creating your profile you have the option to add:

· Your website

· Your Twitter profile

· Your Facebook profile

They’ll show up as buttons under your picture on your profile page. Fellow pinners can then click on any button and be taken to the respective site. Bonus: When you “pin” something you can click the Twitter button to tweet it or click the Facebook button and post your pin to Facebook in seconds!

As you’re creating boards for your food business, try to capitalize on a few branding tactics. For example, add keywords to your board’s names. For example, a few keywords to use in the food business can be: “gourmet food”, “quick and easy recipes” and “food gifts”.

Be sure to use related keywords for your specific business in the titles of your boards and also in the description section of what you pin and you will build a strong Pinterest profile in no time.

Three Important Keys on How to Start a Home Vegetarian Food Business in Your Home

Many have turned to the vegetarian lifestyle for the health and environmental benefits. The availability of vendors for this product is rather slim. Maybe you are interested in prospering in this niche market. This article will cover three important keys on how to start a home vegetarian food business in your home. You have to remember first that this is a business. You must run it like a business to stay afloat.

1) Create a plan. It has been said many times that businesses fail due to poor planning and nearly 80% of food businesses fail in the first 3 years. The wrong idea, mismanagement, or not enough financing can be tracked back to poor planning. Think about what you are going to sell, how you will distribute the product, how you will store the goods, and how much the cost will be prior to starting the business. Most food businesses work on a 20% profit margin; after the overhead and food cost. Can your plan become profitable in the first three years?

2) Be sure to get the proper licenses, etc. The US Small Business Administration could be a great source of information. The local chamber of commerce can give you all the necessary business information for your area. You will want to meeting with your local health department for a list of requirements pertaining to the food industry in your county. Business licenses, taxes, payroll, and general book keeping processes should all be in place before you open the doors.

3) A lot of people start a cooking business because they love to cook or their friends are always commenting on how good they cook. That is a great reason to be a cook, but can be a disaster if they have little or no business talents. There is much more to this type of business that cooking. Owners will need to wear many different hats to make this profitable. Another solution may be to surround yourself with others who have the talents that you are lacking. Be sure to factor in the cost of this talent as you begin the planning process.

These are a few tips on how to start a home vegetarian food business in your home. One more aspect is marketing. You will need a way to let your customers know you are in business. There are a lot of resources out there to help you with that as well.