In facilities where foods are made, stored and sold, contamination of food or food contact surfaces by pests is a constant worry. Pests carry many disease organisms and, if deposited, can cause illness or parasites in humans. In addition, rodents can also chew on wiring, causing damage to equipment and leading to a fire hazard.In facilities where foods are made, stored and sold, contamination of food or food contact surfaces by pests is a constant worry. 

When pests gain access to food stores, they can quickly cause huge problems for businesses in the food retail and catering industries, said Jason Hodnett, associate regional director, and Mitchael Jashinske, senior technical and regulatory specialist, for Kieler, Wis.-based PSSI.

They can burrow into food packaging and contaminate it, rendering the contents inedible and causing setbacks for your business. They can also spread diseases through their fur, feet, droppings, urine, saliva, and harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, if they’re carrying it.

“This can inevitably cause illness and food poisoning in those who consume affected food,” Jashinske said. “When faced with pest infestation, the health of your customers and employees is at risk, as well as your reputation.”

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has changed the process of food safety from reaction to prevention, according to PSSI. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service looks for the same thing.

To prevent infestation from occurring in the first place, rather than scrambling after it does happen, specialists like PSSI rely on integrated pest management (IPM) systems, long-term prevention processes that identify and eliminate the risk of the contributing factor to a food safety issue.

“With IPM, you take actions to keep pests from becoming a problem, such as repairing a hole and trapping rodents who could enter through that hole,” Jashinske said. “PSSI Pest Solutions uses IPM to identify and correct the root cause instead of treating the symptoms.”

The company offers comprehensive pest management with a food safety focus. When dealing with food processing facilities, PSSI monitors devices to identify where potential issues may occur and keep a close eye on trending activity levels to identify where problems may exist, then communicates corrective actions to reduce the risk to its partners.

PSSI relies on necessary pesticide applications in conjunction with other IPM methods, such as habitat modification, exclusion, sanitation, or other actions that will reduce risk, protect property, health, and the environment.

“Like any other service industry, pest management is only as good as its people,” Jashinske said. “Educating our teams on service is crucial to the success of pest prevention.”

That includes identifying pest species to determine corrective actions, proper selection or pesticides based upon the pest to be controlled, the type of facility and the area of the facility to be treated, and the appropriate documentation to meet state, federal, and third-party audit specification requirements, according to Jashinske and Hodnett.

From bugs to birds

An effective pest-control program begins with an understanding of potential pests, their feeding habits, where and how they live and various safe and effective methods of controlling and eliminating them.

In facilities where foods are produced, stored and sold, cockroaches, flying insects, birds and rodents are some of the top offenders, according to the Fairfax, Va.-based National Pest Management Association.

Top billing goes to cockroaches, which can transmit diseases like Salmonella, Vibrio cholera, and Staphylococcus aureus.

The best step in controlling them is to get them where they live, according to the association. Cardboard boxes are a favorite residence. It’s crucial to seal and fill cracks and crevices throughout facilities where food is being made.

When it comes to flying insects, houseflies and fruit flies are the most common. A single housefly can carry up to 3.6 million bacteria. To control them, you need to attack their breeding sites, which typically means garbage. Sticky traps, baited jug traps or sticky ribbons are effective ways to reduce the number of flies. Insecticidal sprays or fogs can also be used to suppress them.

Keeping critters away: a checklist

  • Storing food in airtight containers.
  • Cleaning up spills and debris immediately.
  • Daily cleaning of all surfaces before closing for the day.
  • Closing trash bins with lids.
  • Clearing of trash bins located inside the establishment.
  • Deep-cleaning of hard-to-reach areas such as shelves and under sinks.
  • Closing all entry points to the building after entering the premises.

(Source: Top Best)

Integrated Pest Management inspection: the tools you’ll need

  • Building map or floor plan to mark areas that may need follow-up management or regular inspection.
  • Standard flashlight and UV flashlight (good for detecting rodent urine stains, which fluoresce under UV light).
  • Knife or flat spatula to put into narrow cracks and crevices to reveal where pests like to hide and where they seek shelter and food. If a spatula fits in a crack in concrete, baseboards, wallboards or underneath chalkboards, pests can hide there.
  • Hand lens or jeweler’s loupe magnifying glass for insect identification.
  • Vial for collecting any pests you might want identified.
  • Telescoping mirrors lengthen from around 6 to 36 inches – perfect for seeing behind or under hard-to-reach places.

(Source: University of California – San Francisco)