Cockroaches are wonderfully adapted to co-habiting with humans: they’ll eat almost anything (from foodstuffs to card and even leather) and are generally nocturnal, meaning we tend not to see them too often.

Unfortunately, their varied diet means they can transfer diseases and it’s not uncommon to find they’re the root cause of stomach upsets and associated problems – catering establishments, especially, need to monitor for them and deal with an infestation promptly.

There are two main types in the UK: the German Cockroach – around 15mm long, an agile climber and very comfortable behind cookers, ‘fridges or any cracks and crevices they can find in a kitchen – and the larger (25-30mm long) Oriental Cockroach which is less able to climb smooth surfaces and prefers to make boiler rooms, sewers, pipes and drains its home.

Cockroaches’ excrete a dark brown or black dropping that’s less than 2mm and cylindrical in shape. However, when they have good access to water, their droppings are almost liquid, resulting in a dark smear rather than a solid ‘pellet’.

Dangers presented by Cockroaches

A spreader of food poisoning and Gastroenteritis, cockroaches damage products and fittings and, in a commercial catering setting, can cause the business to be closed while the infestation is treated – this can cause lost revenue and, more importantly, seriously damage a restaurant’s reputation. Cockroach droppings have also been associated with¬†asthma &¬†eczema; all in all, cockroaches are a pest of the first order!


As with flies, preventing cockroaches from infesting an area is better than cure but this is getting harder and harder to do: they can enter a premise via staff’s personal effects, clothes or products supplied to a kitchen, for example. However, ensuring holes and gaps in doors, windows and pipe-entry points are sealed and keep kitchen areas clean will go a long way to minimising the risk of cockroaches setting up home!

When treatment is required, one or more insecticides are used, generally targeted at the places cockroaches seek shelter in during the day. Night-time inspections can be far more revealing because cockroaches are most active at night; often, simply looking behind a ‘fridge will give a good indication if cockroaches are present.