Pest control

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, other requirements will be introduced in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.


What are pests?

Pests, in the context of food production, are animals such as rodents, birds and insects that pose a health risk to food.

Pests such as insects, rodents and birds can contaminate food. Their presence in and around food establishments is unsanitary.

There are several risks associated with pests in food establishments. They can

  • contaminate food, food contact surfaces and equipment
  • spread disease to humans
  • compromise food packaging, resulting in food loss
  • cause equipment and property damage

It is important to control the risks associated with pests by preventing pest from entering buildings, detecting and eliminating pests, and preventing the contamination of food.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) created this document as guidance to help food businesses comply with the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

It's your choice!

You may use other guidance developed by provincial governments, industry associations, international partners or academic bodies as long as they can achieve the outcomes identified in the regulations. Always ensure that the guidance you choose is relevant for your particular business, product or products, and market requirements.

What is included

The document outlines:

  • pest prevention and assessment
  • pest control measures
  • developing a pest control program

Refer to the Tell me more! section for additional sources of information that may help you develop pest controls.

What is not included

While the document provides examples of pest control activities, it is not exhaustive ­ the pest control measures will depend on the size and complexity of the food business and be unique for each business.

Roles and responsibilities

Food businesses are responsible for complying with the law. They demonstrate compliance by ensuring that the commodities and processes for which they are responsible meet regulatory requirements. If a written preventive control plan (PCP) is required, the food business develops a PCP with supporting documents, monitors and maintains evidence of its implementation, and verifies that all control measures are effective.

The CFIA verifies the compliance of a food business by conducting activities that include inspection, and surveillance. When non-compliance is identified, the CFIA takes appropriate compliance and enforcement actions.

Pest control

Pest prevention

Pest control starts with the condition of the establishment and its maintenance and operation, inside and out. The following are preventive measures that you can take to reduce the risk of pests entering and infesting the establishment:


  • Buildings are constructed and maintained in a manner so that they are bird, insect and rodent proof
  • Buildings are designed so they do not provide harbourage to pests
  • Exterior lights are placed away from the building to discourage insects from swarming near the building

Fence lines

  • Fences are kept free of debris and vegetation

Perimeter of buildings

  • Areas adjacent to the building are kept free of debris, vegetation and stored materials
    Note: If an herbicide is used to eliminate vegetation growth for the purpose of removing pest harbourages, label directions are followed and applied in a way that does not harm nearby crops or contaminate water supplies
  • Ornamental plantings and weeds are kept away from buildings
  • Paved areas are well-drained and maintained to prevent pooling/standing water conditions

Unpaved areas

  • Unpaved areas are maintained to keep vegetation short to limit pest harbourage
  • Low lying areas of the property surroundings should be well drained and maintained to prevent pooling/standing water conditions

Loading / receiving docks

  • Dock areas are kept free of product spillage to prevent attracting pests
  • Holes and cracks or other structural damage of a dock is repaired to prevent pest harbourage
  • Open areas beneath a dock, if any, are clean and accessible to allow cleaning if required
  • If hydraulic dock levelers are used, the areas beneath the levelers are clean and rodent proof
  • Metal flashing attached to vertical dock surfaces aids in preventing rodents from climbing the vertical surfaces
  • Overhead doors are adjusted so that they fit tightly along the sides, top and bottom to prevent pests from entering
  • Gaskets are tight fitting and completely seal openings to prevent the entry and harborage of pests
  • Area is well-drained and maintained to prevent pooling/standing water conditions
  • Air curtains or plastic strips may be used as insect a barriers and are clean and in good repair

Interior docks

  • All dock areas are structurally sound
  • Doors are in good repair and tight fitting
  • Air curtains or plastic strips may be used as insect barriers and are clean and in good repair

Outside waste area

  • Areas where contaminated materials, waste and refuse are stored are managed to prevent attracting and harbouring pests. Compactors and dumpsters are adequate to hold at least one day's refuse and are placed on paved, asphalt or concrete surface to facilitate cleaning. Refuse containers are kept covered or closed
  • Area is well drained and maintained to prevent continuous pooling/standing water conditions

Roof areas

  • Roof areas, including gutters, are clean and free of debris to prevent pest harborage
  • Nesting and roosting sites are eliminated
  • Exposed outside rafters are screened off to discourage roosting
  • Air intakes and exhaust fans are screened to prevent pest entrance
  • Low lying areas of flat roofs are maintained to prevent continuous pooling/standing water conditions

Exterior storage

  • All exterior storage of food, utensils, equipment, and machinery is discouraged as they provide sites for pest harbourage
  • If storage outside the building is necessary, it should be off the ground and covered to prevent contamination

Doors and windows

  • Doors and windows are kept closed when not in use and are well sealed
  • If doors are frequently used, air curtains or plastic strips are installed at the door to act as a barrier for flying insects
  • Screens have a minimum 16 mesh
  • Employee entrances are equipped with self-closing devices
  • Areas around the doors, both inside and out, are kept clean and free of pest attractants or harbourage

Other entrances

  • Conveyors, pipes, wiring and gates that enter the establishment are pest proofed

Warehouse / storage areas

  • Warehouse and storage areas have an aisle along the walls that:
    • is clean, free of debris and stored materials to prevent pest harborage
    • prevents pest harbourage and simplifies inspection
    • is light colored to make detection of rodent droppings and insects easier
  • Expansion joints in the floors are checked for pest activity and are tightly sealed to prevent them from becoming a pest harborage site or potential entrance point
  • Access aisles between rows of palletized goods allow for cleaning and inspection of the floor and the storage
  • Incoming ingredients and materials are inspected for infestation at the time they are received
  • All food and materials are stored off the floor, such as on shelves or pallets
  • Stock rotation helps to prevent infestation by reducing the build-up of old products and materials
  • Floor drains have covers

Processing areas

  • Perimeter walls are monitored for signs of pest infestation and accumulation of food residues
  • The walls ceilings and floors are free of holes and cracks and any structural defects are sealed to prevent pest harbourage
  • Where there are pipes or tubes that enter or exit processing areas, the space around them is sealed
  • Equipment, tables, utensils are maintained in a clean and sanitary manner
  • Equipment is installed in a way to allow access for inspection, cleaning and sanitizing
  • Overhead lights, pipes, structures, electrical boxes are kept clean
  • Conveyors entering and exiting the building and moving between processing areas or rooms are closed off to prevent runways for pests
  • Floor drains have covers

Coolers / freezers

  • Coolers and freezers are checked for cleanliness and structural soundness
  • As with other storage and warehouse areas, all storage and equipment is kept away from walls, with a light colored aisle painted on the floor.
    • Rodents can infest these areas and survive by nesting in the insulated walls or beneath the floor
  • Doors leading into coolers and freezers are tight fitting to prevent pest access
  • Floor drains have covers

Interior waste areas

  • Areas where waste or contaminated materials are stored are kept clean and free from materials that harbour pests
  • All waste containers are fitted with lids and cleaned at a frequency to prevent build-up of debris which contributes to pest problems

Maintenance areas

  • Work benches and parts storage areas are monitored for the evidence of pests
  • All storage is off the floor to allow for cleaning and inspection

Lunchroom, locker rooms and washrooms

  • These areas are clean and free of food scraps
  • All lockers are cleaned out on a routine basis and inspected for evidence of pests


  • All offices are clean and free of spilled food
  • These areas are also inspected for evidence of pests on a routine basis


You monitor all areas of the establishment for the presence of:

  • live pest sightings
  • dead animals
  • droppings
  • damaged packaging
  • chew marks
  • webbing
  • animal smells

Trapping, reducing or eradicating pests

It is important to have measures in place to control and remove pests that manage to enter the establishment. There are a number of control measures that you can apply:

1. Physical

Physical control measures include things such as traps and electrocutors; they are intended to reduce rodent and insect problems. The need to use these types of control measures will vary depending on the type of establishment.

Insect electrocutors

This equipment may be used to control flying insects, such as fruit flies, houseflies and moths inside a food establishment.

  • They are placed in locations not likely to attract insects into the building, such as near doors and windows.
  • They are not placed in areas which are likely to result in food contamination when insects are electrocuted, such as food handling areas
  • Height placement corresponds to targeted insects. For example, fruit flies and houseflies are low flying, moths are high flying
  • Electrocutors are equipped with catch trays which are checked and cleaned at a frequency to prevent insect and insect parts build up
  • Electrocutor light bulbs are maintained at a frequency to function properly

Rodent traps may be placed around the outside and inside perimeter of the establishment to monitor infestations and to provide control.

  • Rodent traps may be placed around the exterior of the building, in food stacks, next to exterior doors and in storage areas
  • Traps and stations are monitored regularly and more frequently when infestations are evident

2. Chemical

Many pesticides are registered by Health Canada for use in a food establishment to help reduce or eradicate pests.

  • Pesticides permitted for use are registered under the Pest Control Products Act and Pest Control Products Regulations and must be used in accordance with the label instructions (available on the Health Canada's Pesticide public registry)
  • Due to their risk of contaminating food directly, pest control chemicals should be kept in secure storage
Rodent control

Only traps should be used inside an establishment, especially in processing areas.

If bait is required in processing or storage areas, it should be placed inside a bait station and used when no operation is taking place or storage areas are empty.

Using bait in block form, as opposed to pellets, granules and powders, prevents the pests from transporting the bait and contaminating food.

Rodent bait stations may be used in non-food areas of the establishment such as the boiler room, offices, maintenance areas, locker rooms, waste areas, and outside of the establishment.

  • Bait stations are located so that they effectively control rodents while preventing accidental contamination of food
  • They are numbered and their location indicated on the floor plan with other pest control devices
  • The type of rodenticide used as bait is recorded. Bait stations are checked and refreshed at a specified frequency to ensure freshness and to prevent insect infestation. Old or infested bait is removed from the bait stations and safely disposed
Insect control

Insecticide applications within food processing establishments normally include three general types:

  • Fumigation of a food processing establishment is complex and should be conducted by a qualified exterminator
    • It is carried out when no operation is taking place and at the completion of the fumigation, a proper aeration of the treated area is carried out prior to resuming production
  • Fogging (ultra-low volume treatment) is carried out during periods when no processing is taking place
    • Food contact surfaces are thoroughly washed and rinsed following the fogging, and before production begins
    • Extra care must be taken that food is not contaminated
      Note: Some fogging chemicals are approved for use during operation but should always be carried out by a qualified exterminator.
  • Residual and contact surface spray applications in processing areas consist mainly of crack and crevice and spot-type applications
    • Extreme care must be taken not to contaminate any food or food-contact surfaces
    • Spraying is not carried out in processing areas during production
    • All utensils and food contact surfaces are thoroughly washed and rinsed following spraying and before resumption of processing

3. Other eradication measures

Other eradication measures may be used to control insects such as:

  • Leaving the facility at below freezing temperatures for at least two days
    • drain all pipes and plumbing to prevent damage
  • Sealing doors and windows and heating the facility at a temperature above 49°C for one day
    • remove sensitive instruments and control devices so that they are not damaged by the heat
  • Pheromone traps may be used to monitor and identify the species of insects present in order to develop and effective control procedure
    • Such traps are equipped with catch trays and are checked and cleaned at a frequency to prevent insect /insect parts build up
  • Biological controls, which include the use of beneficial species, such as predatory and parasitic insects, nematodes or disease organisms to suppress populations of pests can be used in fresh fruit or vegetable growing environments such as fields and greenhouses

Animals, such as cats and dogs, cannot be used to control pests in food facilities as they also present a risk of contamination in the food establishment.

Development of a pest control program

Your pest control program should describe the following:


All persons or positions responsible for pest control activities. This could be a pest control company or internal personnel.


Each room or area included in pest control activities. This includes both inside and outside of the facility. All pest control devices are numbered and their location mapped on a floor plan or outside building schematic.


The rooms or areas subject to pest control, the methods, products and equipment to be used.


The frequency at which pest activity is monitored and pest control products and equipment are replaced. For instance, will it be daily, weekly, monthly or other?


Step-by-step details on how the pest control activities are to be performed so as to ensure that they are conducted in a manner that does not present a risk of contamination of food, equipment or facilities.
Note: Proper steps must also be taken to prevent injury to employees.


The documents to be completed:

  • Templates used to record pest control activities completed, corrective actions taken and demonstrate the effectiveness of your pest control measures.

The records should indicate:

  • who conducted the task
  • what pest control task was completed and the results
  • locations where the task was completed
  • date and time

Third party Pest Control Company

Many food operators hire a professional pest control company to conduct pest control activities in their establishments. If you contract a third party pest control company, the contract should describe the information discussed in the previous section so that you can verify that these activities are completed by the company as written.

Note: You remain responsible for keeping records of the pest control activities completed by the pest control company.

Tell me more! Further reading

The following references contain information that helps explain food safety controls, demonstrates how to develop them, and provides examples. The CFIA is not responsible for the content of documents that are created by other government agencies or international sources.

CFIA references

Other references

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