Fly in your soup

Your customers will no doubt recall the Sesame Street skit “Fly in my soup”, starring Grover, the much-loved puppet, as a waiter. Flies are a nuisance, and nuisances can be great fodder for comedy skits. However, the impact of flies on your business’ hygiene levels and reputation is no laughing matter.

In Australia’s highly competitive hospitality environment, a cameo by a tiny fly could drive a huge wedge between your restaurant’s success and devastating customer reviews. Word-of-mouth reviews are more important than ever before. When it comes to food, people love to talk. But this also affects any business that has a kitchen, including offices.

As use of web-based opinion platforms continues to rise, research shows that positive, consumer-generated ratings about the quality of food, environment and service significantly increases a restaurant or bar’s popularity and bottom line. For example, a recent study showed that an extra half-star rating on caused restaurants to sell out 49% more frequently.

No laughing matter.

Particularly in the food and beverage sector, flies are an important factor in the dissemination of infectious diseases and serve as a cross-contamination vector for other foodborne pathogens. Flies feed, breed and settle on faecal matter, in rotting foods, on animals and a broad range of other bacteria-ridden surfaces on a daily basis.

House flies can’t bite or chew. A fly consumes food by first tasting it with its disease-laden feet and by rubbing the food with the bristles on the end of its straw-like proboscis. Then it regurgitates (vomits) digestive enzymes onto it from the stomach – enzymes which contain disease-causing bacteria from previous meals such as faeces. The fly will then use its feet to stomp on the food to liquefy it, again transferring disease onto the food surface. Finally, it will suck the food up via its proboscis, leaving a range of pathogens behind. Flies eat anything that humans eat; however, they will also eat human and animal excrement on a regular basis.

In urban environments and especially in food and beverage businesses, flies are a filthy fact of life. The good news is there are various measures that can be taken to deter or remove flies. Diligent housekeeping and the use of fly killer units are the two key steps to prevent flies from becoming a nuisance, spreading illness, having a negative effect on your business reputation, and ultimately impacting on your bottom line.

Rentokil's Luminos Electronic Fly Killer range, uses unique technology to hygienically and effectively capture and kill flying insects. These units can be used in a range of internal environments with discreet, unobtrusive designs to suit commercial kitchens, pharmaceutical and food manufacturing and the hospitality industry.



  • Anderson, M and Magruder, J (2012), Learning from the Crowd: Regression Discontinuity Estimates of the Effects of an Online Review Database, The Economic Journal, Vol 122, Issue 563, pp 957-989.
  • Jesus, A, Olsen, A, Bryce, JR and Whiting, RC (2004), Quantitative contamination and transfer of Escherichia coli from foods by houseflies, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae), International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 93, Issue 2, 1 June 2004, Pages 259–262.
  • World Health Organisation (2015), Houseflies, Carriers of diarrhoeal diseases and skin and eye infections, Chapter 6, retrieved from
  • Zhang, Z, Ye, Q, Law, R and Li, Y (2012), The impact of e-word-of-mouth on the online popularity of restaurants: A comparison of consumer reviews and editor reviews, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2010, Pages 694–700