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Top Pests Affecting The Food Retail Industry

Top Pests Affecting The Food Retailer Industry


Pests are a huge impact on the way that a food retailer industry is run. They cause many problems and have even managed to ruin a few retailers reputations.


Food and soft drinks is the largest sector in the UK.


The UK is not self-sufficient in food production. It imports 48% of the total food consumed and the percentage is steadily rising. 


Most supermarkets work with many companies abroad to import their food sources.


Consequences of a food retailer failing to maintain standards:


  • Bad reputation
  • Negative word of mouth travels amongst your customers
  • Damage to the trust that your customers had
  • Financial loss from fines
  • Loss of profit due to loss of customers
  • Prosecution by public health
  • Closure of the business


The top pests affecting the food retailer industry are: Flies, Rodents and stored products insects.


Flies -


There are many different fly species that are attracted to foods that are in supermarkets. The top two include Fruit Flies and Drain Flies.


Fruit Flies


Fruit Flies are mostly common in supermarkets whereas you can still find them in your home or in restaurants.


Fruit Flies are known to lay eggs on food and are attracted to the moisture. They are specifically attracted to ripened fruit and vegetables.


The potential amount of gas that a single fruit fly can lay is enormous with this figure being 500. 


How to identify Fruit Flies


Colours: Striped abdomens

                Eye is either red or black

Size:       Red eyed are 1/8th of an inch long

               Black eyed is 3/16 of an inch long

Where:   Around your fruit bowl 

               Inside a recycling bin



Damage caused by Fruit Flies


These Flies have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other diseases. They have a major impact on the food industry as they can cause many problems. 


Once Fruit Flies find there source (fruit and vegetables), they are able to cause the food to discolour and to rot.


After the flies have produced, the larvae tunnel deep into the fruit causing a large amount of damage inside the fruit.


Whilst hey are not able to cause any certain illness, there are some concerns. They are able to carry bacteria from one place to another, while doing this they are contaminating food with infectious micro-organisms.


Drain Flies


Drain flies are small flies with short, hairy bodies and wings giving them a moth-like appearance.


These flies typically breed in drains, hence the common name of Drain Flies. They live off debris in  the form of a humid film on the drain sides.


They are attracted to rotting food, waste material and sewage. They seem to lay their eggs in the waste that builds up inside of the drains.


How to identify Drain Flies


Colours: Light grey or tan with a border around the wings           

Size:       1/8th of an inch long

Where:   Breed inside drains and fly in and around them


Damage caused by Drain Flies


Drain flies do not bite people or animals. However, as these flies are developed in decaying matter found in the sink and sewer drains they have the potential to carry pathogens acquired at the development sites where sterility is important such as food preparations areas and supermarkets.


These flies also affect human health when they are present in higher numbers. This is because the bodies of dead flies may disintegrate to form allergens. 





Rats and mice can be a serious health risk and can also do serious damage to your business premises and equipment.



There are two types of rats: brown rat, black rat.


Brown Rat: The adults brown rat weighs up to 500g and has brown fur on its back. On its underfur it is the colour grey. Its tail is shorter than its head and body.


Black Rat: The black rat is very quite rare. It weighs up to 300g and has no hair on its ears. Whereas its tail is longer than the head and body put together.


Damage caused by Rats 


Pests can damage both direct and indirectly. Rats can damage food or ruin the aesthetic making it unsellable in the market place. Rats can contaminate food by easily coming into contact with it. The pests leave behind a waste that can ruin entire supplies of products. If the pest problem gets really bad, they can cause supermarkets to fail health and safety regulation inspections. This can result in a few things:

  • Steep fines
  • Closure of the store
  • Bad reputation 



There is two types of mice: house mice, field mice.


House Mice: The house mouse is the most common type of mouse that is found in the UK. It weighs up to 50g and has brown or grey fur. its tail is the same length as its head and body but is thinner than the tail of a young rat.


Field Mice: The field mouse is often found on agricultural land and fields but easily get into buildings and food premises.


Damage caused by Mice


Mice will chew on literally everything that is in sight that they see is useful in building their nests. This could be wood, paper, cloth, food etc. A mouse will burrow into furniture to create a small, hidden nest. Another big issue with mice is that they will tunnel into insulation into walls. They will end up chewing into wires and this has been known to cause a real threat of fire. 


The presence of mice in any food premises is very risky. The risks by mice include: 

  • The spread of disease 
  • Damage to the property
  • Contamination of food 
  • Adverse public opinion 
  • Prosecution and closure
  • Poor staff regulations


Stored Product Insects


Stored product insects are significant pests as they spend majority of their time hidden in food types and breeding. 




The adult moth has a grey tint of colour to it with a pattern of two ‘bands’ across the wings. It has a wingspan of roughly around 18-28mm. The larva is 15-20mm long and is white with a brown head and brown body markings



Damage caused by Moths


Item destruction - when there is a large amount of moths present, they can cause damage to items.


Holes - Holes are the type of damage that most people will find when they have an issue with moths. It can be as simple as one or two holes but normally you will find a variety of large holes. The damage that this causes can be so bad that the item cannot be repaired.




Worker ants are the ants that are most likely to be seen anywhere. Males and females are only produced at certain times of the year. The flying ants have wings and are common in the summer. The workers are black/brown in colour and are seen mostly all the time. The females and males are larger in body size. 


How to identify Ants


Colours: Black


Size:       2-5mm long (workers)

                6.5 - 10mm (female)

                3.5 - 4.5mm (male)

Where:    Mostly anywhere


Damage caused by Ants


Ants are pests once they enter your homes or other premises searching for food.  They are more commonly attracted to sweet, high sugar foods and also liquids like coke and lemonade. When garden ants are searching for food they can become a real nuisance, often walking over unpleasant and dirty surfaces while they are searching for food sources.