Industry Voices

Pest management challenges and best practices for grocery stores


This post is co-authored by Dr. Jim Frederick, chief entomologist and VP of technical and regulatory affairs, and Missy Henriksen, VP of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association.

Pests need three things to survive: food, water and shelter. A well-stocked supermarket contains an overabundance of all three. Due to the large size of stores, intense activity from shoppers, regular food delivery, and after-hours stocking and inventory, pests have ample opportunities to find their way into stores, contaminating food and putting the supermarket’s reputation at risk.

The most common pests found in supermarkets are German cockroaches, mice, flies, a variety of stored product pests and birds. Each of these brings a number of health and property risks. Pest infestations in supermarkets most often occur in the deli sections, bakeries, meat departments, under shelves, loose foods bins, produce sections, employee break areas, loading docks and dumpster and trash areas.

In addition to obtaining the services of an experienced pest management company whose technicians will conduct monthly inspections, employee education and vigilance are the second best lines of defense against pest infestations. According to Paul Curtis, a board certified entomologist and director of commercial service for Terminix, “The number one mistake commercial facility operators, including supermarket managers, make is not providing their employees with education about their role in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and food safety – including inspection of incoming stock.”

A pest management company partner will assist supermarkets with implementing the best program to eliminate the dangers of pest infestations, including the development of an IPM program which combines common sense and sound solutions for treating and controlling pests; using inspection, identification and treatment methods. The technician will help identify all the possible problem areas; take stock of the sanitation conditions and practices; and point out areas of moisture that need to be eliminated. Using these findings, supermarkets will be able to keep an eye on problem areas in between professional inspections.

Although supermarkets are not directly affected by the strict regulations imposed by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) — their suppliers are. FSMA’s shift in focus from reactive response to proactive actions places a greater burden on food processors and manufacturers, which means supermarket managers must ensure the vendors they use are compliant with FSMA and the goods they provide are free of pests.

An aggressive pest management program will help supermarkets to avoid federal, state and local public health violations, fines, and operation interruption. And most importantly, it can also protect them from a loss of customers and a detrimental hit to their reputations.

The National Pest Management Association, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information about pests and prevention tips, please visit

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jun 24, 2014

Most grocery retailers retain a professional pest control company.

But, to get an idea how effective the retailer and pest control company manages their "program", take a look at their loading dock and dumpster at the rear of the store.

That will tell you how serious they are (open unlocked dumpsters, trash, unorganized equipment {display fixtures, pallets, vendor empties, etc.}, etc., etc.!

It is quite telling!

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Lance Eliot

Dr. Lance B. Eliot, MBA, serves as Vice President of Information Technology at Interactions, a global leader in retail solutions and experiential marketing. Dr. Eliot has over 20 years of industry...

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