You have a responsibility for the safety of your customers and to guarantee that food you provide is fit for consumption. Without a plan to avoid pests, you could face contamination of your products.

Don’t feed the problem. Know how to prevent infestations and spot their signs. 

If you do have unwelcome critters, then understand why it’s crucial to choose professional controllers to get rid of pests the right way.

This guide discusses how to control pests in food industry businesses, which includes:

  • Regulations
  • Procedures
  • Signs
  • Controllers

Understand how to control pests in food industry businesses


There are laws and regulations for how to control pests in food industry businesses. They also offer guidance for you if you try to deal with the problem yourself.

Food safety act 1990

A significant piece of legislation within your industry is the Food Safety Act 1990. Failure to follow it could mean that you put your customer’s health at risk, and you could face legal penalties.

One of your responsibilities is that you don’t include anything in the food that can damage the health of those who eat it. Pests can often carry diseases that could transfer to your customers through food.

Animal welfare act 2006

You may decide to attempt to take action against pests yourself, so be aware of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It states that you can only trap or kill permitted animals.

You can’t kill protected species like:

  • Bats
  • Dormouse
  • Badgers
  • Reptiles
  • Birds

You can only use certain methods to kill animals, which are either poisons made for pests or traps. The instructions on the packaging will tell you which species they are for, and you shouldn’t deviate from that.

Some methods are especially illegal if you aren’t a licenced pest controller. These include the use of:

  • Self-locking snares
  • Crossbows
  • Explosives
  • Hunting animals (e.g. birds of prey)


If you think about how to control pests in food industry businesses, it’s practical measures that you’ll benefit from most. With procedures to follow in your process, you can minimise the likelihood of infestations.

Prevent access

There are many ways pests can enter your business premises, so make sure you inspect areas regularly. Check for any damage that could become a pathway for them, and keep a log of every inspection.

You need to check:

  • Windows
  • Drains
  • Vents
  • Doors
  • Roofs

The main things that attract pests are food and water. It’s vital to make sure that you avoid any exposure to prevent the spread of bacteria or disease. Pest could manage to contaminate your food processing.

Pest-proof your food and water:

  • Storage — keep food in containers that are sealed and secure.
  • Spillages — quickly clean any liquids that spill on surfaces.
  • Waste — don’t leave bins in open areas and regularly empty them.

Risk assess

A requirement of the Food Safety Act 1990 is that you manage the risks to your food with regular assessments. After you register a food business with the UK government, you’ll receive a Food Hygiene Rating inspection.

During your inspection, your risk assessment documents can help you show that you take food safety seriously as a business. Without them, it could lead to poor ratings or legal penalties for a breach of the law.

Pest management should factor into your risk assessments, and it can help you keep aware of any potential areas to improve.

The steps for a risk assessment include:

  • Identify — find hazards within your business that could attract pests.
  • Assess — understand which pests could the problem attract.
  • Minimise — take action to reduce the risk of pests from the hazard.
  • Record — make a note of what you do and regularly revisit.


Some pests are more common than others, so spot the signs of an infestation. When it comes to how to control pests in food industry businesses, it’s essential to look for any warnings beyond the critters themselves.


A sign of rodents are the black pellet droppings that they can leave behind. Roaches leave eggshells, and other insects shed their skin. Clean up any residue quickly to avoid any additional hazards to health.


Rodents can make nests from shredded paper, grass clippings or leaves. Finding multiple similar-looking dead insects near windows can indicate a nest elsewhere.


Pests cause damage to your property themselves. With rodents, it could be holes in the walls or floors. They also gnaw at furniture or wiring. Termites damage wood so that they could create severe structural issues.


Even with procedures in place and a hygienic business, you could still spot an infestation. Although you may be able to deal with a small number of pests yourself, significant issues require pest control.

Look for businesses that are a member of the British Pest Control Association.

It’s a not-for-profit organisation that guarantees that the controller you choose will work to a standard that is:

  • Quick
  • Humane
  • Safe

The association vets members to ensure they have skills to use biological, physical and chemical tools. Attempting to use those things without training could cause damage to wildlife, pets or yourself.

Pests can become a financial nuisance

If you have a long-term infestation, it could affect your reputation as a business. But to deal with the problem, consider the costs of a controller or poisons and traps.

Pests could continue to be an issue for you which could mean that they add to your overall costs of your business.

Don’t let infestations eat away at profits with Countingup

To avoid a significant hit from pests, ensure that you keep on top of your spending and set aside money to deal with issues quickly. If left unsolved, tiny guests become a big problem as they multiply rapidly over a short period.

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software. Its cash flow insights alert you of the money that comes in and out, so you can ensure you have enough should the worst happen.

Get started for free.

For more tips that could benefit your food business, see: