Summer Time, Flies and Food Safety

Have you ever walked up to a restaurant where they leave the front door wide open? Well next time turn around! There are probably flies in this establishment.

Flies are not just a nuisance, large flies can present a serious food safety concern. Large flies including houseflies, bottle/blow flies and flesh flies are also called “filth flies” because they breed in filth such as manure, human excreta, dumpsters, garbage, and decaying vegetation, causing a major food safety risk.

What happens when a fly lands on your food?

A filth fly’s mouth looks like a soda straw so it can’t chomp into your hot dog like you do. It lands on your bun, spits on it, uses its legs to mash up what it just spit on, and then sucks it back up through its soda-straw mouth. At the same time, it can transfer E-coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Norovirus, or any number of other bacteria to that hot dog that you are about to eat. Like many pests, a fly doesn’t have any bladder control, so it might also leave excrement on your bun!

Avoid restaurants with open doors

Physical control methods should be prioritized. Flies should be prevented from entering a building in the first instance. All outside doors should never be wedged or held open. The only way to keep flies out of a food establishment is to create a physical barrier between the outside and the food service area. Also the outside of the building should be kept clean.

So before taking a bite of that burger that the fly landed on think about what flies like to land on: Dead things, poop, rotting food, and dumpsters. Next time you see a fly about, kill it quick. You might be preventing your family from getting sick.

Jasmine Davenport-Murray REHS

CEO of ARF Food Safety Consulting Group