Helpful Tips To Control Fruit Flies In Commercial Kitchens

Matthew S. Hess

There’s no doubt that fruit flies can be a major problem when food and moisture are involved. However, there are many helpful tips to aid in the control of fruit flies in commercial kitchens. We will discuss a few of those in today’s article. Hopefully, these will benefit you and your commercial kitchen, making it not only a better food provider, but a better place to work with more profitable as well.
It’s worth noting that the actions taken to reduce pests and pest-conducive conditions inside a commercial kitchen, will be equally as effective in any kitchen, including residential kitchens.
A clean and regularly sanitized kitchen will help prevent and control fruit fly populations and infestations
It may be nearly impossible to keep an active commercial kitchen this clean, that is, unless you have the right staff! Clean kitchens have less pest problems, every time!

What Causes Fruit Flies?

Many people think fruit flies are caused by dirty drains and sinks. That’s certainly a version of the truth, but not the entire story. Did you know that only around 20% of the issue is related to food and debris in drains, sinks and behind equipment? In fact, quite often the problem begins with the introduction of fruit fly eggs and larvae which are present on fresh fruits and vegetables! These hatch and are then drawn to the dirty drains and sinks to continue the life cycle by laying new eggs within the food debris and grime.

Many Fresh Food Contain Fruit Fly Larva

Bananas are one of the top fruits to contain fruit fly eggs are larvae
Bananas are one of the top contributors to fruit fly populations. Eggs and larvae will be on the fruit when it arrives. Left to age a few days, the fruit fly larvae will pupate and metamorphize to an adult. Within a few days, turning bananas can cause thousands of fruit flies to invade your kitchen. There are a couple options: Only buy what can be consumed within 1 – 2 days, wash them before storage (Check with management first), refrigerate them or purchase special fruit-bags to store them in.
Tomatoes are a close second for containing fruit fly eggs and larvae
Tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables besides bananas, can also create a perfect situation for a fruit fly outbreak. Practice proper purchasing, serving, storage and rotation measures with all fruits and vegetables.
Rotten fruits and vegetables cannot remain inside a commercial kitchen and must be discarded right away to prevent fruit flies and other pests
Rotten fruits and vegetables will provide a perfect area and conditions for fruit flies and other insects to both feed and reproduce. Eliminating spotted, soft or rotting fruits and vegetables immediately is crucial in controlling certain pests.

Poor Sanitation Aids Infestations

Once hatched, various other sanitation issues can aid in their successful infestations. These include filthy, unwashed garbage containers, garbage receptacles, poor sanitation of equipment, poor floor-cleaning practices, old mop heads and wash cloths, the towel bin (where the daily used towels are stored after use each day) and the dish-pit area where standing water is usually found. Other places like drip pans, soda fountains, coolers and refrigerators might also go unclean and aid in population growth.
Garbage receptacles and trash bins are areas which require additional attention. Keep these clean, free of debris, sanitized and bio-treated to help prevent and reduce fruit fly populations and infestations.
Keeping things clean in the kitchen is a must when dealing with commercial food service
Keeping the dishes and dish area clean, is a commercial kitchen must.
Even behind appliances and equipment must be regularly cleaned when fruit flies are present
Behind equipment often gets overlooked. Mainly because it’s out of sight. It is as crucial to clean and maintain proper sanitation behind equipment as in front of it!

Proper Cleaning is Necessary

Although introduction of fruit flies might be almost impossible to completely avoid, keeping them due to poor sanitation efforts is inexcusable and completely avoidable. Once these pests are inside a commercial kitchen, quick control and elimination is necessary. This may well include removal of the source of infestation; the fresh fruit and vegetables! However, it will certainly include proper sanitation practices to stop the life cycle. Contamination of foods by fruit fly populations inside a commercial kitchen is unacceptable.
Sanitation in commercial kitchens is important to reduce, eliminate and prevent pest problems
Cleaning and sanitizing is just as important to a commercial kitchen as it is to a medical operatory. Each member of your staff should have delegated duties in this field as well. Even at home, the one who makes the mess in the kitchen is usually the one who gets to clean it up! There’s nothing degrading about cleaning up your mess or your work area. In fact, it’s quite rewarding to both work in and serve from a clean environment. After all, we aren’t wild animals!

Remember… We Said PROPER Cleaning!

Of those proper sanitation efforts, cleaning the floor with a pressure washer is excluded. Simply put, the very name indicates that pressure is involved. The extreme force from pressure washing a floor may seem like a great idea. Yes, it will clean the grease, grime and food particles from the surface, but at the same time, it will drive part of the organic decaying matter deep into cracks and crevices where it will lodge, rot, stink and draw… you guessed it, FRUIT FLIES and other pests!

These floors are a prime example of a proper maintenance and sanitation program implemented and executed in a professional and successful style
It is difficult to keep floors in a commercial kitchen as clean as these pictured, during operational hours. However, end-of-shift cleaning and closing staff should be charged with getting the floors squeaky clean before leaving. If the floors are dirty, the rest of the kitchen will be too. Keep those floors clean and watch the rest of the kitchen follow suit.
Around equipment in floors should be equally as clean as the middle of the floor
Around equipment, shelving and door posts should be kept equally as clean as the center of the floor. Staining, like on this door post, is immaterial. Cleanliness is key. You can always re-paint to enhance aesthetics. The floors in these pictures are maintained by simple sweeping, mopping and sanitation without any pressure washing. Yes, you can do it too!

Kitchen Smelly?

Have you ever noticed your commercial kitchen taking on a sort of smell you just can’t explain? And no matter how hard you try, it just won’t go away? That just might be because the rotting food and debris causing the smell is lodged in inaccessible cracks and crevices.
Simply mopping the floors with a good degreaser/sanitizer can certainly be more beneficial than pressure washing. In fact, many pressure wash their floors thinking it helps with the grease issue. However, you’ve probably noticed that while it does remove the grease, it’s right back within a week or two at most. Twice or three times daily mopping with approved and proper degreasers and sanitizers is your best friend!
Commercial kitchen floors should be kept clean to reduce pest populations including fruit flies
In the world of commercial kitchens, there is no place for filthy and disgusting floors like this one. Only animals eat in such conditions! If your staff don’t care about cleanliness, as we always say, you need new staff! Don’t let lazy and unconcerned staff members ruin your reputation!
Filthy commercial kitchen floor are unacceptable and unnecessary
Food and debris left on floors quickly get kicked under appliances and equipment where it is left to rot and draw pests of all sorts. There is no excuse for food to lay on the floor of a commercial kitchen long enough for your pest control technician to snap pictures!

Honest, Good Work Should Make You Proud!
Regular mopping of commercial kitchen floors is crucial not only for proper sanitation, but to aid in pest control
There’s no reason why cleaning duties can’t be rewarding. No one should want to work in a nasty kitchen. Additionally, greasy floors are slick and potentially dangerous. Clean floors are crucial to pest control efforts in commercial kitchens; presenting a better work environment, attracting better staff and providing a safer work zone for employees.

Bio Cleaning Products Are a Helpful Tip to Control Fruit Flies in a Commercial Kitchen
There are several marketed products for commercial kitchens which actually eat decaying organic matter, helping to reduce it’s buildup. A few products worth mentioning are Biozyme and Invade Bio Cleaner. Cleaning with these products actually allows the product’s microbes to be leached and pushed into the cracks and crevices where decaying organic matter would be found. There, they will help eliminate the problem over time. The left-over mop-bucket can then be emptied into drains and sinks to allow the cleaners to work on the drains as well. It’s a win-win situation!
Additionally, citrus, peppermint and a few other essential oils may be used in the mop water to aid in not only a great lasting scent, but to also help repel fruit flies and stop their reproductive cycle.
Dirty drains, like this one from a commercial kitchen, provide reproductive sites for fruit fly populations. Keeping them clean, unstopped and free of debris and grime is part of proper sanitation procedures which every commercial kitchen should employ.
As a side note, we highly recommend the use of  Biozyme, sprayed around the lower parts of equipment, behind equipment, under equipment and to baseboards and cracks and crevices throughout. This should be sprayed on a monthly, bi-monthly or weekly basis inside commercial kitchens to help reduce the effects of decaying organic matter. This is a service we can offer through our pest control programs.

Good Storage Practices Are a Must

Besides good sanitation and cleaning efforts, proper storage is helpful in fruit fly control as well. Storage bins for stored food items, napkins, cups, utensils and other necessary kitchen items can easily be neatly stored and accessed via a good storage plan. Additionally, neat, tidy, organized and clean storage areas are neither impossible or difficult to maintain. Having the right staff and the right leaders are crucial.
Food stored in containers like these pictured, is perfect for commercial kitchen sanitation and pest control efforts
Storage rooms like this one, are great examples of what a commercial kitchen storage area should look like. We went through this facility in great detail and found that the rest of the facility looks like this storage room. Through the years we have noted that a facility’s kitchen and storage area will usually set the stage for the rest of the facility. If there is no structure, sanitation and cleanliness in the kitchen, the rest of the facility will suffer as well!
Here are a few helpful tips to control fruit flies in commercial kitchens, just for you:
What YOU can do:
  • Don’t neglect soda fountains! They need attention, maintenance and regular cleaning even if Pepsi or Coke say otherwise!
  • Inspect dish-pit area daily. Avoid prolonged standing water.
  • Inspect fruits and vegetables. If you find any bruised, spotted or soft, among the good ones, remember what momma always said about one bad apple ruining the whole bunch!
  • Remove any fruits and vegetables showing signs of fruit fly activity. This is crucial.
  • Remove garbage, EVEN IN GARBAGE CANS every single day, at least once.
  • Supply garbage cans with lids to block fruit flies from accessing the garbage.
  • Clean garbage and trash bins regularly. Use one of the Bio sprays after each cleaning. Spray them inside and out.
  • Keep drains and sinks, cleaned, sanitized and bio-treated everyday.
  • Don’t ignore food or drink spills. Clean them up immediately.
  • Employ a great team-leader and give them the list of duties to delegate to the cleaning crew.
  • What’s that? You don’t have a cleaning crew? Do you even run a commercial kitchen? Get a cleaning crew, even if it means utilizing your current staff!
  • Inspect your crews efforts. Not once or twice a year, but daily if possible and weekly at the very least. If you don’t care, chance are, neither do they!
What you can HIRE Done:
  • Have your pest company install Fly lights in key locations right away. This should have been in place long ago!
  • Have a plumber check for plumbing issues annually.
  • Have any water leaks fixed right away.
  • Have clogged drains cleaned immediately.

I know, I know… I hear it all the time, “It’s hard to get my staff to do what is already required. How can I add more duties?” Simple. Give them titles. Put someone trustworthy in charge. Implement a points system for small bonuses or pay-raises. Use your imagination, use Google, or ask someone who runs a cleaner commercial kitchen than you do. Maybe they’ll tell you their secret. The worst they can say is no!
Will All This Guarantee No Fruit Flies in My Commercial Kitchen?

There’s no real way to effectively guarantee that you’ll never have fruit flies in a working, commercial kitchen. However, you don’t have to keep them! Call the pros here at Four Seasons Pest Solutions. We make it our priority to protect your business from pests. Each pest program we offer is tailored to your specific needs. You’ll get a dedicated member of our crew as an initial inspector and program coordinator to show you exactly what your facility will need for perfect results. Then, a regular pest technician will be assigned to your account for ongoing services. Give us a call… you’ll be glad you did!