Historically a £60,000 fine for breaches of food hygiene legislation was considered to be significant. The sentencing guidelines for food safety & Hygiene offences changed in 2016 and as a consequence some eye watering fines have been imposed where companies have failed to adequately control pest infestation. The specific legislation is the Food Safety & Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. The fines are now calculated considering the company turnover, culpability and the potential harm, either actual or risk. Large Businesses are organisations where turnover exceeds £50,000,000. Fines for large companies can range from £100- £3,000,000. Even for small businesses with turnover less than £2,000,000 fines of up to £120,000 can be imposed.
There has been a step change and recent examples of fines include:
Pub Chain Birmingham £105,000 August 2016
Supermarket Bromborough £700,000 August 2016
Supermarket Park Royal £664,000 November 2016
Bakery Birmingham £60,000 November 2016
Discount store Birmingham £134,000 January 2017
Health food Retailer Knightsbridge £500,000 February 2017
Supermarket distribution depot Enfield £300,000 March 2017
National retailer Streatham £123,000 October 2017
The majority of the fines have related to mouse infestation. Pest control is an important service and needs to be treated as a priority service for any business involved in hospitality, food manufacture, storage or retail. Unfortunately, pest control is often seen as a background service that should be procured at the lowest possible price. Sometimes pest control specifications are written with little understanding of what is required to deliver effective pest control. This combination is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, many companies have reviewed their strategy for pest control, realising that the consequences of not getting it right represent a serious risk to their business and of lasting brand damage. Record fines, bad publicity, particularly via social media and the risk of full or partial closure of premises under a prohibition notices are never well received.
How to get the best from your pest control contractor
It is important that category managers in procurement understand pest control, purchasing services requires a different approach to ensure the service is fit for purpose. Reliance on a “one size fits all” approach to the number of planned visits carried out is not recommended. Some sites will need higher specifications with more frequent treatments.
More enlightened national companies have changed their strategy and no longer rely on a single national supplier. Reliance on one supplier can create complacency and doesn’t allow benchmarking of contractor performance. Many of the best pest control companies are regional and although employing more than one company involves more effort the rewards far outweigh the extra time required.
Measure and manage suppliers “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”
Metrics might include:
- Stock loss due to pest activity
- Service level – adherence to specification relating to attendance, follow up inspections and reporting.
- Number of sites with repeat infestation, what is the root cause?
Working in partnership with all stakeholders is essential, to resolve pest activity. At sites with deep seated infestation goodwill and collaboration is required from all stakeholders to make progress. Joint visits with pest control contractor and client’s representatives may be required to understand the key issues at sites and to agree action plans.
Support your pest control contractor, recommendations relating to proofing, housekeeping and stacking enable clients to improve their sites e.g. proofing holes that pests can harbour within, cleaning to remove potential food sources and materials that can harbour pests. Pests are opportunists and we need to make sites as inhospitable to pests as possible. A mouse can enter a 6mm hole, it is important that proofing is carried out using durable materials and to the correct standard.
Education of the on site team
Pest awareness training at site level can assist in ensuring that front line team members can recognise the signs of pest activity and how to report it. Early intervention can save time and money resolving issues. If the team understand why recommendations are made they are more likely to implement them and therefore reduce opportunities for pest activity.
Regular checks of incoming goods for signs of pest activity are an essential part of good management practice.
The size of fines relating to pest activity is focussing minds across many sectors in the food industry, the good news is that hygiene standards will only improve as a consequence. To discuss any issues relating to pest control please call Rokill on 01425 482001 or email us at email@example.com