Bugs in Food


Gross, yes I know.  I’m disgusted every time I see one.  Because we have pets, our doors are open a lot plus we live along the water so sometimes it does happen that a creepy crawly gets in the house.  We use a pest control company so they don’t last long.  I know there are some who’ll tell me that I shouldn’t spray in the house and to them I say, “For me, I want no bugs.”

I’ve had a nasty cold and I suspect I got it at the grand opening of Costco where it was really crowded and full of kids.  John felt sorry for me so he went out for food and got me something with lots of broth.  He got out the bowls and poured in the good bits and brought it to me as I was lying on the sofa, near to death.  (slight exaggeration but not much)

With immense effort I sat up and said, “Can you turn up the lights just a bit?”  Darned good thing he did because smack dab in the bowl was most of a cockroach.  OMG I was sure I was going to barf.

“That’s disgusting!  I’m not going to eat that, sorry.  I know you went to a lot of effort,” I said.

“He’s dead, he won’t eat much,” John laughed.

“Not funny.”

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  I can keep roaches out of my food, so why couldn’t the restaurant?  Surely they’d be more diligent than I would be when their sanitation/cleanliness is critical to their livelihood.  It seemed not in this case.  Maybe it was a one-off but will I ever get over it and want to eat there again?  Doubt it.

I got up this morning still thinking about it.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know how pest control in restaurants worked.  I have a friend who owns a restaurant in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane so I called him and asked how he stayed bug free.  I’ve been in his kitchen and it’s as clean as mine and I know it’s not an accident that he’s bug-free.

It was lovely to catch up with him. I wasn’t expecting a Bugs in Restaurants 101 university course but that’s what I got.  Condensed, here’s what he had to say.

Keep Clean

A clean restaurant, especially in the kitchen, where there aren’t lots of crumbs or food scraps lying around is going to be more hygienic.  It’s not difficult to wash surfaces down with an anti-bacterial solution before preparing food and it’s not difficult to do it again when you finish prepping.  Bacteria will have a much more difficult time growing in a clean environment.

Store Foods Properly

At the end of every shift, the chef should make the decision on what food gets saved for the next door and which gets tossed.  Saved food should be kept in well labelled, air-tight containers and placed in the walk-in or freezer.  Food to be disposed should be bagged and placed outside in the dumpster, NOT left inside where it could attract roaches, rodents or other bugs.  No food should ever be left lying out in the air uncovered.

Have a Hand Washing Rule

As a restaurant manager or owner, you’re able to set the rules on how your staff behave and hand washing is my friend’s passion.  The first thing he teaches a new employee is how to properly wash his/her hands.  “It’s never been a problem for me because everyone washes his hands upon entering the kitchen.  “Call me fussy but that’s just how I operate.  If you leave the kitchen whether it’s to go outside for a smoke or go to the loo or even head to the dining room, when you get back to the kitchen, you wash  your hands.  My staff do it now without thinking.”  They’ve never had an incident where anyone got sick from eating there.

Stay Pest Free

Here’s where my friend got serious.  If you get inspected and they find a bug infestation,  your restaurant could be shut down until it’s in compliance with the regulations.  That is expensive both in lost income and lost reputation.  Nobody wants to visit your restaurant and see a sign that says closed for bug spraying.  “Maureen, I use Trusted Pest Management here in Brisbane and if you could give them a plug, it would mean a lot to me.”  Done!  It seems that pest control just isn’t an issue for his restaurant as he’s on a plan where the pest control people visit regularly and are quick to return if anyone sees anything crawling around.  There’s no way to keep them out forever but it’s not difficult problem to correct.  I felt pretty righteous about saying I wasn’t going to eat where John got the food last night.

Now you’re wondering who my friend is, I know but when I asked if I could use his name and restaurant in the post he said, “For a bug post??  Are you nuts?  Write me up another time, okay?”  Fair enough.  :)

Have you ever seen roaches or other bugs in restaurants?  Did you ever go back?  How do you sort bugs at your house?

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  1. says

    Oh that’s bad! The odd hair is nasty enough, especially in a restaurant. I did see a live green grub crawling in the garden side salad at an Italian restaurant once (I strongly suspect he grows a lot of his own produce) and that was off putting, but a cockroach! I would be screaming blue murder, I feel for your roachy moment 😀

  2. says

    I’ve never dealt with bugs like I have here in Oz. I’ve had to adopt an entirely different way of storing food and dealing with leftovers, especially during summer.

  3. says

    Dear Maureen,

    Bugs in food is all relative and growing up in Malaysia, I would have unknowingly eaten my fair share of bugs in street hawker food there as standards are no where near to what we have in Australia. Therefore, I believe my immune system is a lot better than my friends in Australia and unlike them, I am able to hit the streets for hawker food without experiencing tummy problems.

  4. says

    That is absolutely REVOLTING and I totally feel for you Maureen! I hate hate hate bugs too we had an slight issue with ants before and I spent so much time and effort to get rid of them! I think the tips you shared are great and I really hope restaurants will read this and be more diligent!

  5. says

    Good grief Maureen! It’s a good job you did turn the light up. I’m really happy to see that Brisbane City Council has started naming and shaming those that they now give fines out to for poor health and hygeine practices. No surprises that Mc D in Queen St was the top offender in a recent list. No good on the Sunshine Coast but it’s a start. Thanks for the interesting read!

    Here’s the link: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queen-street-mcdonalds-fined-most-in-brisbanes-foodhall-of-shame-20140509-zr7wm.html

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