Chinese Year of the Rat? Just Keep Them off the Menu
If you’ve ever perused the notorious paper placemats at Chinese Restaurants that map out the Chinese zodiac, you might already know that 2020 marks the Chinese Year of the Rat. In Chinese astrology, rats represent wealth and surplus, as well as fertility. But in your restaurant, rats represent a serious problem.
Most diners would prefer their zoological experience go no further than the placemats or decorations, with the exception of the animals that provide us with beef, pork, chicken and seafood dishes. Unfortunately, however, animal pests are one of the most persistent problems in the restaurant industry. After all, it’s not just customers who think your food is tasty.
Resist Rat Infestations
Critters like rats are fun to read about, but it’s a whole other issue when they start showing up in the kitchen or dining room. Because of animal pests’ threat to human health and safety, not to mention the damage they can do to your restaurant’s reputation, it’s important to have measures in place before you have a rodent problem.
That means building a good defense against unwanted diners like rats and mice. It’s far easier, after all, to keep them out than it is to kick them out once they start frequenting your establishment.
Don’t Underestimate the Threat of Rats
Rodents like rats and mice carry dangerous diseases, like leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, hantavirus, plague (yes, the same disease that wiped out one-third of Europe in the 1300s) and more.
For these reasons alone, a rodent problem not only means bad Yelp! reviews, but, if your local health department catches wind of the issue, your business could be fined, cited or even temporarily shut down until you resolve it. Some cities even publish health department violations, creating a public relations nightmare for local restaurants that weren’t up to speed on the latest prevention tactics.
The Root of the Rat Issue
The problem usually starts with improper operating procedures. Restaurants that fail to thoroughly inspect deliveries, keep doors closed (or haven’t equipped their doors with door sweeps), clean effectively (especially under kitchen equipment) or store food and supplies properly are opening the door (sometimes literally) to rodent problems.
Proper cleaning measures in general, as well as specific waste removal procedures (i.e. consistent removal to a dumpster) and routine maintenance (fixing leaky pipes, etc.) will help prevent future rodent problems.
If you do discover a rat problem in your restaurant, there are several steps you’ll need to take ASAP. First, seal off all rat entry points (cracks and holes in outside walls, doors that don’t close properly, etc.) You might also consider traps inside and bait stations outside.
Of course, these techniques pale in comparison to the expertise of a certified, licensed commercial pest control professional, so resist the urge to cut corners and deal with the issue yourself.
Don’t let your restaurant be the butt of any “Year of the Rat” jokes. Call in the professionals to make it clear that the only rodent in the establishment is found on the placemats.