Cockroaches in New Jersey Restaurants

Monday, February 9th, 2015 by Bill Cowley

Spring Lake Cockroaches

Customers associate cockroaches with uncleanliness and disease; and with good reason. In addition to being an annoyance, cockroaches have been implicated in both outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions. Cockroaches can spread at least thirty-three kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and seven other kinds of human pathogens. Cockroaches carry these germs on the spines of their legs and on their bodies. Anything that crosses the cockroach’s path can become contaminated. If there is a cockroach problem in a restaurant kitchen it must be taken care of immediately.

When dealing with the problem of cockroaches in a commercial or restaurant kitchen it is important to note that simply spraying pesticides is not a safe or a particularly effective form of control. It is important to take an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to control cockroaches in food establishments that calls for proper identification of the pest, altering of the environment to deter them, and, as a last resort, the use of pesticides.  

The first step in eradicating a pest under IPM guidelines is to properly identify the pest. Cockroaches are among the most common of insects to infest restaurants and commercial kitchens in New Jersey. There are four varieties of cockroaches in the Garden State (German, brown-banded, Oriental, and American) with the German cockroach being the most common of all. When German cockroaches reach their adult phase they range in size from a half of an inch to five-eighths of an inch making them one of the smaller varieties of cockroaches. Their small size is one of the reasons why German cockroaches are the most abundant variety of cockroaches found in kitchens; they are able to hide themselves in many places inaccessible to members of the larger species.

Once the pest in the kitchen has been properly identified as a cockroach, the following is a Four-Point IPM plan for keeping them out of the restaurant: inspection, removal, upkeep, and monitoring. Each part of the plan plays a necessary role in keeping commercial kitchens free of cockroaches.

1. Inspection

In a busy commercial kitchen, there are many food deliveries. The most convenient place for a delivery person to place the food is directly into the kitchen. Although this seems like a convenient and logical place to put the food items, this one act could be playing a significant role in cockroach infestations in restaurant kitchens.

Cockroaches are excellent “hitch-hikers” that are easily transported during food deliveries. Cockroaches can flatten their bodies so they are able to fit into narrow areas, like in between the layers of corrugated cardboard. All deliveries should be opened and carefully inspected outside the restaurant building. After the food is unpacked, all cardboard and other packing materials must be removed from the building. If the boxes are delivered directly into the kitchen or unpacked boxes are left in the kitchen, the chance of cockroaches escaping into the kitchen increases significantly. Opening, unpacking, and inspecting deliveries outside of the restaurant proves to be a successful way for one of our clients to control cockroaches in, a Spring Lake, NJ restaurant.

2. Removal

Cleanout of the commercial kitchen and restaurant areas is necessary as a first step in knocking down the population. A pest professional will utilize a HEPA vacuum to remove large roach populations and their debris. Next, it is important to find the source of the infestation and their hiding places in order to fully eliminate the population.

It is simply not safe to indiscriminately administer pesticides in a location that contains food in order to remove roaches. A trained pest management professional will be able to take the necessary steps to identify, remove and then as a final step use the least amount of pesticide, and use them only in targeted areas, which will make it possible to remove existing cockroaches without endangering the safety of the restaurant’s guests.

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that prefer to stay in the dark. They favor hiding spaces that are tight and narrow in which their bodies can touch surfaces both above and below them. This proclivity to spaces that are typically difficult to reach makes it hard to administer effective pesticides. Pest management professionals are able to use tools such as micro injectors to rid the deep crack and crevice areas of the kitchen from any cockroaches. This is important because traditional baits and sprays cannot reach these areas that micro injectors can reach.

3. Upkeep

Cockroaches enter areas to find food, water, and shelter and although they prefer starchy foods and meats they will eat almost any food they can find. It is imperative to keep the kitchen as clean as possible:

  • wash behind the hotline (oven, stove, and fryers)
  • wash walls and ceilings
  • wipe down the dry storage area,
  • wash floor mats
  • change sanitizing water and cleaning rags
  • empty trash bins frequently
  • cover all bins in reach-in coolers with plastic wrap.

Keeping the kitchen impeccably clean plays a vital role in keeping cockroaches away.

4. Monitoring

Even when restaurants are vigilant about inspecting deliveries, removing cardboard, and keeping their kitchens clean, there is a chance that cockroaches will invade. In order to ensure that cockroaches are found and removed before there is an infestation, it is vital to use a monitoring system. One of the best and least expensive tools for monitoring is a glue board. Although they are very easy to use, a professional pest management expert will be able to find the most productive and discreet places to set up the glue boards.

Glue board traps pests, which is helpful in pest removal, however, the most important job of the glue board is to alert someone that there is a problem. Strategically placed glue boards can help identify where a cockroach may be entering the building.

It is important to identify the problem quickly because cockroaches can rapidly produce a large number of offspring. A female German cockroach can create 10,000 descendants in one year. It is important to monitor traps on a regular basis. If you see pests on the traps you need to re-evaluate your inspection, removal, and upkeep procedures. If you are working with a pest control specialist, alert them so they will be able to alter your pest control plan immediately. 

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