The DOH inspector arrives, and you think everything is great. You have no active pest issues, temps are all good – then they hit you with their magic bullet – the elusive “Pest Conducive Conditions” violation.
Urgh! It can drive you crazy!
Today, the DOH looks at Pest Conducive Conditions just as seriously as having the actual pest. On top of that, the arbitrary nature of all inspections only adds to our frustration. What one inspector considers as a 1 point violation, another may give you 4 points.
So how do we combat this?
Simple. Make sure you do not have these conditions in your restaurant.
But where do you look – What are you even looking for?
The answers are fairly easy.
What you Need: A really good flashlight.
In fact get a few of them. Give them to all your managers and cleaning staff. So many times these conditions exist simply because you don’t see them.
Where should you look?
- Under Equipment– You have to look beyond Surface Clean. So many times we get fooled by clean, gleaming sheet metal and sparkling floors. Look at this picture of what appears to be an immaculate kitchen. Yet, just by looking at the pipes and drains under the steam table.
- literal piles of rotting, organic matter that are hugely attractive to any pest. You can’t assume that just because the top of your equipment is clean, that it is just as clean below. Legs of equipment, pipes, hoses all work like blockers in a football game. Protecting debris and allowing it to decay. Again, this creates conditions perfectly attractive to all forms of pest.Once you thoroughly inspect your restaurant, you will find your weak, or as I like to call it, your Critical Spots. But once you know these conditions exist, cleaning programs or corrective measures to prevent them from continuing, can be put in place.
- Look for moisture. Water that sits stagnant with organic matter creates ideal conditions for all pests – but especially for flies. This can happen anywhere. Obviously, main water areas are key – under dishwashers, sinks, and bar areas. But sometimes it can be simple, easily overlooked areas.
Here we have a small drinking straw that is wedged between two tiles. Fruit fly larvae were actually living inside the straw and below it.
What could you do to prevent this?
Look at your floor an hour after it is mopped. All areas should be totally dry. If not, look how you can correct it. Sometimes, a little grout and cement can do wonders to prevent moisture issues. Any equipment that uses water is also very vulnerable. Check under and behind all refrigerator and freezer units and ice machines.
- Grease and food debris. Grease and food debris are highly attractive to rodents and houseflies. Do you know what it looks like under your stove or fry machines? These can be very difficult areas to clean, especially if they have been overlooked for a while. If buildup is already occurring, this is a gift to the health inspector. The sooner you catch these issues, the easier it is to set up a regular cleaning program.
Again, you have to look inside your equipment.
Again, it appears to be a clean griddle. Yet if you looked through one of the slots in the front, a ton of grease and food debris is caked on
What if the inspector thinks the burnt food are rodent droppings? Regardless, it certainly is a pest conducive area.
The health department goes after pest conducive areas for one simple fact – they really ARE conditions that pests love. The fewer conditions you have like this in your restaurant, the fewer pests you will have.
So get a flashlight, get on your hands and knees and see what is really going on in your restaurant. And, when that inspector does arrive – relax and know that the blue A will soon be in your window.
Michael Broder is the President of BHB Pest Elimination. Since 1969, BHB Pest Elimination has been dedicated to NYC’s food and hospitality industry. If you need help identifying your pest conducive areas, or for any information on our Pest Elimination Programs., please contact us and we will gladly provide you with a free site evaluation. 212-242-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.