Trade body issues guide to food sector for preventing rat infestations
An estimated 20 percent of the global food supply is damaged by rodents every year – at an annual cost of more than £11 billion.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has warned the food sector to be on guard as milder winters drive a rise in rats.
BPCA has now published a new online guide to help businesses prevent problems with the pest. The guide – which highlights the signs and dangers of an infestation – can be found on BPCA‘s website, alongside other guides for pests such as mice.
The guide is said to look into the life cycle and habits of rats, as well as giving tips on avoiding infestation and sign-posting food sector companies to professional pest control.
“In the past, harsh winters were a natural method of culling those numbers. Milder winters in recent years have helped rat populations thrive, which is where professional pest control comes in,” said Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA Technical Manager.
Rats are said to represent a significant public health risk as they urinate wherever they go; they can spread diseases including Salmonella and Weil’s disease to humans when they – or their urine – come into contact with food preparation areas.
The problems associated with rats are not just limited to public health, as they can also cause structural damage. “Rats have to gnaw in order to keep their teeth in shape, and they are not shy about what they gnaw on,” Ward-Thompson said.
“Common ‘gnaw-spots’ include the sheathing around electrical cables, which present a significant fire risk, and pipes, which is likely to result in leaks, both water and gas.”
Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority.
Environmental Health Officers can issue enforcement notices to business owners who do not have adequate pest management procedures in place and businesses found to have a pest problem can also face fines with repeat offenders in danger of facing legal action.
“For any rat infestation, we would always recommend contacting a professional pest management company,” Ward-Thompson continued. “They are trained in rodent control and will have access to a range of professional-use rodenticides and tools, which are not available to the public. Knowing how much, where, and when to deploy products is where professionals are able to take control of situations efficiently.
“A pest professional will have access to monitoring equipment, which they will use to confirm entry points into your property, the size of the infestation and to track the rat to its harbourage (nest). They can then recommend a proofing strategy and decide on the best course of action in terms of control; this could be traps, rodenticides or a combination of both.”