Pest control in the food industry

Pest control in the food industry

Pests pose a major threat in the food sector. Pests result in the contamination, decay and/or deterioration of processes or produced foods. Pest control and pest prevention may therefore not be lacking in a quality system.

The food sector is subject to strict auditing and the presence of pests always makes up part of the assessment. If an infestation of pests is discovered during an audit or inspection, then there may be major consequences. A production location may even be (temporarily) shut down.

There are different types of pests, including mice, rats, flying insects and insects that grow in foodstuffs. All types of pests involve hygiene- and/or health risks. Control and prevention procedures differ per type of pest.


The most commonly occuring rat in the Netherlands is the brown rat, or sewer rat. It is better to control rats outdoors, so they do not see chance to come indoors. There are various measures to take to prevent the occurence of rats:

  • Store food where it is inaccessible to rats.
  • Adequately seal waste containers and have these collected highly frequently.
  • Seal pipes.
  • Ensure that doors close without cracks.
  • Ensure that drains and sewers are well maintained.


The presence of mice is apparent thanks to their droppings or traces of gnawing. They hide away above ceilings, behind shields in walls and in stored materials. Mice have but a small territory, making it important to maintain inspection points indoors as well as outdoors. The following measures can be observed to prevent the occurrence of mice:

  • Do not leave junk lying around.
  • Prevent holes and cracks and if present, seal these off.
  • Eliminate food supply by collecting and storing waste in sealed containers.
  • Inspect stored goods for traces of mice.
  • Limit the size of the ventilation holes in the outer wall to less than 0.5 cm


Insects, particularly flies, are the most frequently occurring pests in the Netherlands. Flies spread bacteria via their legs, mouth and hair. The following measures can prevent or limit the occurrence of flies:

  • Equip open doors and windows with screens.
  • Timely remove waste.
  • Collect waste in sealed containers.
  • Cover foodstuffs.
  • Install electric fly killers

Pest control

In addition to measures to prevent pests, an integrated pest management plan should be in place. Pest control is subject to statutory regulations. Pest control measures are only to be implemented by a recognised professional who is adequately competent. If necessary, one may opt to hire a pest management company. The pesticide to be used depends upon the type of pest concerned. It is important in this respect to comply with the law; for example, some pesticides are not allowed to be used in the Netherlands.


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