The presence of pests in food production and preparation areas has always been unacceptable. Ignoring it could be a high-risk threat because it can cause contamination and damage raw materials in various ways. Besides affecting stocks, a pest infestation may also result in loss of revenue, customers’ trust, fines, and even prosecution. Anurag Mishra explains various elements of Pest Management Program in this second part.

The food industry is one of the most vulnerable segments which cannot do without pest control to maintain their high levels of food safety. The importance of pest control in the food industry and recommended prevention measures have already been described in the previous issue (March 2019). It was also discussed how to choose a commercial pest control agency.

Coming to Pest Control Agency’s responsibility, Agency must Identify the type of possible pests in the facility and nearby, Right People for Treatment, Right Chemicals with Method, Documentation and review mechanism. Now let us have a detailed look at various elements of Pest Control process.

Organizations must have a formalized preventive pest control program and it must be maintained in the facility by an appointed person. The pest control program must be undertaken by trained in-house personnel or be provided by an outside pest control contractor. A trained outside agency is highly recommended.

If done by the outside agency then there must be a report from agency including the actions to be done by the organization ( like gap closure etc.) and the possible type of pests. The treatment method must be designed as per the assessment is done by an outside agency.

The facility should maintain written procedures outlining the requirements of the program to reduce the potential for product contamination from past activity or the use of materials and/or procedures designed to control pest activity and effectiveness. In addition, specific programs and procedures will include as a minimum:

Documentation of the Pest Control Activity including minimum

a) Type of Treatment
b) Frequency
c) Type of Pesticide used for treatment

Pesticides designated to use in Food Manufacturing Facilities must only be used by trained, licensed pest control technicians, where a license is required by government codes. Pesticide applications made within a facility or on the grounds of a facility will be undertaken by a licensed pest control applicator. This applicator can be an outside contractor or properly licensed or trained employee. Methyl Bromide fumigant must never be used in a facility.

Facility personnel or outside pest control services shall clearly explain how fogging pesticides are applied in accordance with the product label.

Accurate documentation of all pesticide applications, including rodenticides, used in or around the facility must be maintained. Documentation shall be maintained in accordance with government regulations and shall include, at a minimum:

a) Materials applied.
b) Target organism.
c) Amount applied.
d) Specific area where the pesticide was applied.
e) Method of application.
f) Rate of application or dosage.
g) Date and time treated and re-entry time after fogging.
h) Technician’s signature.

All pesticide containers and application equipment shall be properly labeled to identify the contents. Insecticides and herbicides each require separate equipment for application. All equipment used for pesticide application shall be properly maintained in serviceable condition.

Pesticides stored in a facility shall be stored in a locked enclosure, preferably in an outside building away from production areas. Easily understandable labeling warning of the contents and limiting access shall be posted on the exterior entrances to this enclosure. The storage enclosure shall be adequate in size and construction and well ventilated. Herbicides, residual and non-residual pesticide materials, and application equipment shall be separated by location in cabinets, lockers, or caged areas. The enclosure shall also contain the necessary materials to control spills or leakage and to avoid injury to personnel.

Disposal of pesticides, pesticide containers, and pesticide residues shall be done in a manner that meets all regulatory guidelines and shall be consistent with the instructions included on the label for the material.

Outside bait stations for the control of rats and mice. These bait stations should meet tamper resistance standards and should be properly positioned, anchored in place, locked, and properly labeled. The bait stations shall be installed around the exterior perimeter of the facility at 50-100 foot (15-30 meter) intervals.

Lids to the bait stations shall be locked with devices supplied by or recommended by the manufacturer. The use of reusable plastic ties or other easily cut or tampered-with materials shall not be used.

Baits used shall be company-approved registered rodenticide or monitoring (non-toxic) feeding blocks. No bait shall be used in the facility.

Service conducted on the external monitoring devices shall be in line with levels of rodent activity in the stations. However, all stations should be inspected and serviced no less than once per month. Each service and the results of the service will be documented for each station or device and maintained on file.

Typical food and beverage pest control management
Typical food and beverage pest control management

Internal devices used for routine monitoring purposes should be positioned at 20-35 foot (6.5-12 meter) intervals along the inside of exterior storage perimeter walls. Rodent control devices should be installed at each side of exterior overhead and pedestrian doors or where there is a potential for rodent entry into the facility. In any area where there is a potential for rodent activity, such as raw material storage areas within a facility, rodent control devices should be installed along interior walls. The contractor or facility personnel should inspect and clean the devices at least once a week.

Maps or schematics showing the locations of the rodent control devices should be maintained and kept current. A record of the service and cleaning of each rodent control device should be maintained in each device. The service documentation should include the findings from the device audits.

Rodent burrows, rodent runs, and any conditions attracting rodents or other pests both inside and outside the facility shall be eliminated.

If used, electric flying insect monitors should be numbered and used as needed to identify flying insect entry into the facility. Units should be so installed that insects are not attracted from outside the building. Units should not be placed within 10 -12 feet (3-4 meters) of an exposed product on a production or packaging line. All units should be listed on the cleaning schedule for cleanout on a weekly schedule during peak insect season. They can be cleaned monthly during the off-peak season. The shatterproof light tubes should be changed on an annual basis and records of this maintained.

Records shall be maintained to show the numbers of insects removed from the monitors.

Birds should be controlled by exclusion: netting, screening, mechanical traps etc.

Pest Control Management Review

Each organization must review the pest control management to assess the effectiveness of the activity. A review will give a clear idea to the organization about the required changes into the established system/processes of pest control. The recommended frequency is once in 6 months.

By following the above processes and methodology we can reduce the pest infestation in our food products during manufacturing and storage and can eliminate the profit eaters like pets.