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Flies, Cockroaches And Food Safety At Franchised Restaurants

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 7/15/2014

Study shows that flies are twice as unhealthy as cockroaches, but customers at the nation's independent and franchised restaurants aren't concerned.

Most restaurant patrons would go ballistic if they saw a cockroach or mouse scamper across the floor of their favorite eatery. But according to a recent study sponsored by Orkin, the real threat to food safety may be one that restaurant customers don't seem too concerned about.

Bug in Soup

As reported at MarketWatch and other media outlets, the study showed that flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches and carry significantly more disease-carrying pathogens, exposing restaurant patrons to serious food safety risks. But flies continue to fly under the radar when it comes to customer perceptions. While 61 percent of restaurant diners said they would continue to eat their meal after a fly touched it, just 3 percent said they would eat food that had been exposed to a cockroach.

"Many restaurant patrons may not be aware that house flies are twice as filthy as cockroaches," said Ron Harrison, Orkin entomologist and technical services director Ron Harrison. "It's important that everyone understands the magnitude of the health threats flies pose so that they can help prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases and bacteria."

Of course the real issue isn't a comparison between flies and cockroaches, but rather the safety threats that all common pests present to franchised and independent restaurants. Flies are particularly harmful because they are agile, quickly moving from garbage cans and contaminated areas to patrons' plates. The pathogens deposited by flies and other pests can lead to a host of physical ailments in humans, including diarrhea, food poisoning, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

And the scope of the problem is more significant than you might think. Over the past 12 months, 50 percent of diners saw a pest and 95 percent of those sightings included flies. However, 75 percent of those sightings were unreported because most diners don't see flies as a concern.

The lesson? Starting a restaurant -- even a franchised restaurant -- requires a serious commitment, not only to the fundamentals of business ownership, but also to food safety. Whenever possible, restaurateurs need to do a better job controlling all types of pests and educating their employees about the health risks these pests pose to consumers.

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