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Houston Department of Health and Human Services > Food Inspection and Safety (Consumer Health) > Food Safety Tips > How to Prevent Dumpster Problems

Tips on Trash: How to Prevent Dumpster Problems

During spring and fall, your food establishment may become the new hangout of a type of customer that you pray you don't ever see -- rats, rodents, insects and other pests. Fall and Spring season are the worst times for mice and rats to congregate around full and overflowing dumpsters, partially because the weather is cooler but mostly because the trash area is beckoning them to come over and look for a quick snack.

To make sure that you don't fall victim to nibbling little creatures, here are some ways to prevent rodent infestation and a visit from your health department sanitarian:

  • Store all garbage and refuse in durable, washable, insect and rodent-proof containers.
  • Dispose garbage and refuse often enough to prevent odors from seeping and in turn, attracting rodents and insects to your trash area.
  • Keep areas around the dumpster facility clean and orderly. Make sure that the outside storage areas are large enough to store garbage that accumulates. This area should be kept clean and orderly so it does not create a nuisance for your customers.
  • Make sure that your dumpster rests on a washable surface and not on grass or land.
  • Do not store unprotected plastic bags, wet-strength paper bags or baled garbage outside. These items can easily be gnawed by rodents.
  • Make sure that your dumpster is emptied regularly to prevent odors or garbage from seeping around your establishment.
  • When storing garbage and refuse, the outside containers should have tight-fitting lids or covers, and should be covered when not in use. If the container is designed with a drain, the drain plug must be kept in place.

By taking the necessary steps to minimize and eliminate the presence of pests during the spring, fall months, you can ensure safe and pleasant dining from customers that you wouldn't mind seeing any time of the year.

For this and any other food safety related information, please contact the Houston Department of Health and Human Services at 713/794-9200.


Contact the HDHHS Bureau of Consumer Health Services