Under clause 24 of Food Safety Standard 3.2.2 (Food safety practices and general requirements), a food business is not permitted, except in certain circumstances, to have live animals on the premises and is also required to take steps to prevent the entry of and to eradicate pests on the food premises.
This clause ensures that food premises, including footpath dining areas, are kept free from pest animals.
“Pests” is defined to include, but is not limited to, birds, rodents, insects and spiders.
Animals and pests can carry pathogenic organisms that can contaminate food. They may also contaminate food physically with hair, urine and faeces or by being present in the food in whole or part. In addition to contaminating food, rats and mice might nest in roof spaces, and damage cables and pipe work.
Pests can gain access to food premises via food and packaging material, and through doors and other openings. Excluding pests reduces the opportunities for contamination of food.
Outdoor, footpath or alfresco dining and drinking areas must be kept free from pest animals.
The requirement applies to the extent that is practicable. It should be interpreted taking into account the use of the area and the total approach to pest control for your business. For example, it might not be possible to prevent the occasional fly or pest bird coming into a footpath dining area.
Pest birds, especially pigeons, are not uncommon in foodservice settings. They can discourage customers, cause expensive property damage and threaten customer and employee health. The parasites and fungi found in bird droppings have been linked to more than 60 human diseases, including histoplasmosis. Birds congregate around roofs, ledges or outdoor dining patios.
The following pest prevention measures are recommended for footpath dining areas:
- eliminate places that provide harbourage, eg boxed-in areas that are difficult to completely seal should be opened up or provided with access for inspection and cleaning
- provide sufficient lighting to clearly see the food being handled/served to permit cleaning of the area and inspection for pests
- ensure regular cleaning of footpath dining areas, including removal of food debris and waste. Frequently hose down the footpath dining area ensuring that water drains to a drainage system to prevent pooling. (Refer to your local Council’s water restrictions on using hoses in times of drought.)
- make the building less appealing to pests through structural modifications:
- hinder access to common pest bird nesting sites like open areas under HVAC units
- avoid ledges where wall surfaces join
- close holes or gaps that allow pests into wall and ceiling cavities
- provide access to spaces above false or suspended ceilings to allow for inspection for signs of pests.
- install repellants to discourage pest birds from perching on ledges. The most common physical repellants used in food premises are netting and bird spikes. Other repellants, such as chemical agents or electronic noisemakers that frighten birds, are available.
The following pest-proofing measures will limit pest access from the footpath dining area into the food premises:
- install flyscreen doors or self-closing doors to pest-proof entrances into the building
- install mesh screens at window openings or other ventilation openings
- seal drains, grease traps and ventilation pipes
- seal openings where pipes pass through external walls to prevent pests such as rats and mice entering food handling areas
- install appropriate flashing to the base of wooden doors if there is a problem with mice gaining access through doorways.
Practical measures to eradicate pest animals in footpath dining areas include:
- relocation of pest birds and their nests by a licensed professional; ethical treatment and handling of birds must be upheld at all times
- hiring a professional pest controller; this will be necessary if pests cannot be adequately controlled
- using chemicals (sprays or baits) or physical means (traps) to kill or remove pests from the area.
Care must be taken to ensure any chemicals used do not contaminate food. Chemicals must not be used near exposed food. If this is unavoidable, non-spray chemicals should be used. If food does become contaminated or is likely to have become contaminated by chemicals, it must be disposed of. Any eating or drinking utensils or food contact surfaces contaminated during treatment must be cleaned and sanitised before use.