Food Processing Pest Control
No business likes to deal with pests, but taking care of unwanted insects, rodents, and wildlife takes on a particular urgency in the case of food processing. Why? Industry periodical Food Processing explains, “Pest control is a prerequisite program, one of the building blocks of HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] and the prevention-oriented approach to food safety mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).”
In other words, implementing pest control in food processing plants, which ensures that animals don’t spoil or otherwise impact the food supply, is a cost of doing business. The risk is real: The Economic Research Service of the USDA estimated that nearly one-third of all available goods went uneaten in 2010, and significant portion of that loss occurred due to “mold, pests, or inadequate climate control.”
Schedule Preventative Pest Control for Food and Safety
Two axioms rule pest control measures in food businesses. First, such businesses must absolutely not allow pest problems to develop. Second, pests will naturally be drawn to them like iron to a magnet. That’s why pest control in food industry contexts matters so much.
Unfortunately, many small to mid-sized food-processing facilities struggle to execute a pest control checklist for food industry applications, a difficulty that can subject them to cessation of operations, substantial fines, and even legal action. The stakes are simply too high for half measures. No matter the size of your food-processing operation, the first pest management step you should take is to contract with an expert specializing in pest prevention.
Combating Pests in Food Processing
Effective pest control procedures in the food industry start at the most basic level imaginable: the facilities themselves. The University of Arkansas’ Division of Agriculture states, “One of the first steps in managing pests in food plants is a well-constructed building. Preventive design and maintenance are an extremely valuable tool and first step in pest control. When preventive design/construction is not possible, then steps must be taken to apply preventive measures to existing facilities to decrease pest problems.”
Indeed, establishing a perimeter that prevents pests from entering is an important part of integrated pest management (IPM). (Read the next section for more information about IPM.) Unfortunately, having a secure facility isn’t enough. Other pest control guidelines for food industry facilities include:
- Educating employees so they understand the signs of an infestation
- Performing regular inspections
- Setting and checking traps
- Installing lights that draw fewer insects
- Securing sources of food and water
- Applying insecticidal and sanitizing solutions when required
- Keeping records of pest management activities
Though these steps are important, they can’t be applied indiscriminately. They need to be guided by an IPM philosophy, which happens to be the very philosophy practiced by Smithereen Pest Management Services. It’s also the approach recommended by the EPA and multiple international organizations as pest control guidelines for food industry and multiple other industries.
How Integrated Pest Management Can Help
So what exactly is IPM? According to the EPA, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.” The CDC provides an even simpler definition, stating that “IPM simply means (1) don’t attract pests, (2) keep them out, and (3) get rid of them, if you are sure you have them, with the safest, most effective methods.”
This IPM approach informs our pest control procedures in the food industry (and, indeed, all other industries we service), and it ends up looking something like this:
- We conduct a thorough pest inspection of the entirety of your food processing facility
- We identify pest infestations and any potential problem areas
- We communicate our findings and our recommendations, including specific exclusion measures
- We address any current pest issues and develop a proactive program for your specific needs
- We exterminate as needed then design a preventative pest control program that addresses your specific needs
The benefits of an IPM approach for food manufacturing processing and storage pest control are evident. By understanding, excluding, and finally eliminating pests, businesses in the food processing sector can prevent future problems before they even begin.
What Prevention Measures Are Recommended?
Since IPM focuses heavily on prevention, food processing companies ought to take several specific steps in order to ensure that their facilities remain as pest free as possible. Some of these may include the following:
- Inspect all incoming shipments of equipment and raw goods to determine that they aren’t transmitting pests
- Seal cracks in the building’s exterior
- Remove exterior and interior clutter, such as trash, weeds, and poorly stored equipment, all of which can serve as harborage points for pests
- Grade roads and install drainage where necessary to prevent puddling
- Install window screens
- Install prevention measures, such as rodent traps, rooftop anti-bird prongs, or bug-deterring air curtains
- Install insect-attracting electrical grids inside a facility, but do not place them in exterior areas
- Seal foodstuffs in airtight containers and store them off of the floor
- Ensure that space remains between walls and stored items
- Institute regular sanitation routines, including vacuuming and sweeping of dusty areas
- Inspect boxes or structures that house mechanical and electrical equipment
- Implement fumigation measures when receiving large amounts of raw commodities
- Inspect all crevices and spaces in vehicles when arriving and prior to departing with finished goods
- Conduct regular site inspections as directed by a qualified, IPM-implementing professional pest management team
When it comes to food processing, pests pose a serious threat to food safety, health, and reputation. We understand it takes the highest level of expertise to keep your facility pest free and compliant with all regulatory agencies. We have a team of specialists that have been trained in a variety of food safety systems and programs. We have experience with many third-party auditors and have tailored programs that will ensure your audit doesn’t just achieve a passing score but an outstanding one.
Contact us today! For more than a century, Smithereen Pest Management Services has helped businesses throughout the Midwest keep pests away from their workplaces and their homes. A proud recipient of Green Shield certification, Smithereen employs effective pest management practices that are safe for you, your goods, and the environment.