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FLIES AND THE REAL COST OF FOOD SAFETY

With flies presenting a serious hazard to human health, the Brandenburg range of fly units can significantly reduce their impact in food preparation areas. 

In November 2019, a cheese company in Adelaide was forced to recall an entire range of products due to potential E. coli contamination. The previous month saw a recall of stock by a pre-packaged frozen meal company for possible Salmonella contamination. In March 2018, six people died after contracting listeriosis from contaminated rockmelons. Sadly, these preventable incidents are far from isolated cases.

E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter are among the most common pathogens that cause foodborne illness in Australia. These bacteria (and others) are responsible for around 5.4 million cases of food poisoning and 120 deaths per year in Australia alone, at a cost of $1.25 billion to the economy (source: Australasian Science). Houseflies play a major role in the transmission of these pathogens.

Flies breed and grow exclusively in unsanitary conditions. They must lay their eggs, usually in batches of 120-130 at a time, in organic material and generally breed in decomposing animal and vegetable matter. Densely populated areas provide ideal conditions for fly breeding, and the presence of large numbers is a reliable indicator of improper hygiene and sanitation practices.

A single fly can carry up to 1.9 million pathogens on its body and up to 33 million in its gut. It is a known vector for at least 65 diseases that affect humans, including E.coli, Salmonella and hepatitis A. There’s virtually nothing a fly won’t feed on, from human or animal faeces, rotting vegetable matter, blood and animal remains, to food intended for human consumption. Since they are only able to ingest food in liquid form, they secrete a digestive enzyme in their saliva to dissolve solids. During this process, large quantities of microbes present in their guts are transmitted to the food and vice versa. They move often from one source of food to another, picking up and dropping off pathogens at every stage.

Managing potential fly problems begins with good hygiene. Potential breeding sites should be identified and cleaned thoroughly. Waste must be segregated and discarded properly. Organic wet and dry waste should be converted into compost and garbage areas should be sanitised regularly.

Stagnant water and drainage areas often contain organic debris, which make them ideal places for flies to breed and multiply. Phorid flies prefer damp, moist areas in which to lay their eggs. Water must not be left to stagnate in wet areas and drainage should be checked and cleaned regularly.

Practicing the measures mentioned above consistently will certainly reduce fly numbers, but the hardy nature of flies combined with their ability to travel extraordinarily large distances in search of food and breeding grounds makes them almost impossible to eliminate entirely.

It is wise to reinforce traditional sanitation methods with technological remedies such as insect light traps, which turn the fly’s affinity for UVA light against it. Brandenburg’s Genus range is engineered for rapid fly catch and has a fly trap to suit all purposes – high voltage fly killers for non-food handling areas, HACCP-compliant glue board y catchers for back of house areas, and discreet fly catchers for customer-facing areas.

“With light traps a significant expense, making sure you make the correct call on the type of trap for your situation is important to ensure the performance meets your customer’s expectations. Agserv staff can provide advice on light trap selection and the Brandenburg range, both in store and over the phone,” said Jason Green, Agserv general manager.