The National Environment Agency (NEA) constantly strives for the upkeep of the Hygiene standards of food in public places. It has developed a set of guidelines and rules for the Food operators to follow and implement. Pest invasion is a crucial problem and their infestation in food could lead to fatal diseases.
A food establishment should employ optimum quality pest control services. Contaminated food is not only a threat to the health of the customers, it will also be a negative branding on the restaurant’s image and lead to penalties and customer loss. The food served to the public should be prepared in absolute hygienic conditions and comply with the rules of The Food Safety Management System (FSMS).
A food organization should invite tenders from Pest Control Operator (PCO) seeking the following information:
· Experience of the Pest control company in vector management
· No of technicians in the company
· Machinery and technology used for pest control
· Track record of the company
When the Pest Control Service is chosen and employed as per the above-mentioned criteria, a contract has to be drawn. The contract should:
· Assign and specify the activities to be conducted by the pest control operator
· Ensure that the staff should be licensed and competent to carry out the pest control services
A food joint must employ an additional staff that monitors the activities of the pest control service provider. These inspections should be stated in writing. The food organization is authorized to impose the Liquidated Damages (LD) to the PCO. The contract can be terminated if the services are not satisfactory.
The NEA tries to control the rise of vector- borne diseases in Singapore through a series of vector management programs. The vectors are mainly of five types-
Companies that are registered with the NEA or the Vector Control Operators (VCO) can conduct vector control activities. The employees must be trained and licensed as Vector control technicians/Vector control workers to conduct any kind of vector control activity.
Products that are used for vector control are liable for registration prior to sales. They have to be registered under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act. These products and repellents are available in two categories:
· For general use
· For restricted use- These can be used only by the technicians licensed by the NEA.
Pest Control Operators- Services:-
The pest control services that a PCO has to provide are:
These are the most commonly found vectors and it is difficult to control their entry into a food environment, especially if it is open air.
Fleas breed very speedily and also transmit germs easily. The bacteria and germs get transmitted to the food when the flies sit on them. A pest control service should be well-equipped to eradicate the flies from the kitchen and the dining areas.
The areas where there is a possibility of the breeding of cockroaches have to be identified. They should then be examined and steps are taken to get rid of them. Treatments like gel baiting and residual spraying should be used for cockroach hide-outs to terminate them completely.
Rodents and insects are attracted to the food in restaurants through the odor. Therefore, the odor has to be kept in check. The PCO should have sound knowledge in tackling this problem.
Rats can be a major menace to food joints. They can contaminate food, damage raw materials and furnishings. This could tarnish the image of the food joint completely. Rats are known to chew wiring lines, and nibble wood, plastic, and even mild steel. As soon as a rat infestation is indicated, the PCO should get geared for rodent removal services immediately.
Pigeons are found in abundance in Singapore and tend to make nests in various corners of the building. The feces of pigeons carry harmful bacteria. They can be hazardous for the human body. Moreover, bird droppings can cause slippery grounds and are unsightly to look at. They could clog gutters and pipes with their droppings and nests, and create noise and smell issues.
Termites could lead to major loss of property and lead to costly repair and maintenance services. The PCO should lay out an effective anti-termite program to ensure that the premises are free of these pests. Ants too have to be controlled from spreading.
Mosquitoes can transmit germs of fatal diseases and therefore, they have to be kept in control. The PCO should have adequate knowledge about the lifespan and breeding areas of mosquitoes. Treatments like larviciding and thermal fogging are used to terminate the mosquitoes.
The activities of a PCO include:
· The PCO regularly conducts a thorough inspection of the premise and identifies the areas that need pest control.
· They should inspect the bait stations, and undertake pest control activities depending on the pests identified.
· Some techniques employed by the PCO are –
- Laying traps and baits for rodents
- Odor elimination
- Spraying chemicals and insecticides
A team of expert and licensed technicians will ensure that the food organization is free of pests and has a hygienic environment. The NEA takes effective measures to keep the vector-borne diseases at the minimal. It ensures this by-
· Educational programs
· Enforcements- Inspections, fines, penalties
· Surveillance- For control and prevention of disease outbreaks
· Continous research- Factors and reasons behind the outbreak
The NEA has recently launched a handbook – Food Handler’s Handbook to educate and inform the food operators to gain knowledge about good hygiene practices for their organization. An effective NEA pest control measure is mandatory for a restaurant. The prime concern here is the safety of the people of Singapore. With superior pest control services that comply with the NEA guidelines, all food joint in Singapore will provide quality food services to the customers. These rules apply to all food outlets from local street hawkers to high-end international restaurants and hotels.