When it comes to keeping a positive bottom line and rock-solid reputation for your products, it’s important to keep your facility in tip-top shape. Every food processing facility must be audit ready, down to the last detail, at all times.
Explore this issueFebruary/March 2013
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One of the keys to readiness is pest management. Without an effective pest management program in place, insects and rodents can infiltrate your facility, which can lead to food contamination, product recalls, or severe health threats. To ensure that pests don’t plague your facility, work with your pest management professional to establish a custom integrated pest management program. A proactive approach to pest management, IPM places a heavy emphasis on facility maintenance and sanitation, using chemical treatments only as a last resort. Additional components of IPM programs at food manufacturing plants include sanitary design, documentation, ongoing monitoring, and staff training.
While no two facilities are ever alike, pests tend to target certain areas. Take a look around your facility and find these “hot spots,” and then work with your pest management provider to develop a plan that will keep your facility secure.
Follow these IPM procedures to help prevent pest problems:
The entrances to your facility are the front lines of your battle against pests. With the right defenses, though, you can help end the battle before pests take the fight inside.
First, be sure to add door sweeps and use weather stripping to minimize gaps around doors and windows. If possible, install automatic doors to ensure that entrances stay closed as much as possible.
You can also work with an HVAC professional to blow pests out the door by making sure positive air pressure is maintained whenever a door is open, keeping the air flowing outside. To test for positive airflow, hold a piece of paper in a doorway and see which way it blows—if it blows toward the exits, you’re in good shape. You can also create an air curtain that pests can’t penetrate by mounting fans vertically on either side of a doorway.
Exterior lighting makes a difference as well. Consider installing sodium-vapor lights instead of fluorescent bulbs next to entryways to make the area less appealing to flying insects. You can also draw flying pests away from your building by adding mercury-vapor lighting fixtures at least 100 feet from your facility. If you set those lighting fixtures to turn on 10 to 15 minutes before dusk, you can attract night flying pests away.
Receiving and Storage
Loading docks are prime pest targets at food processing facilities, because they tend to be the most accessible entrances. Pests can find their way inside your facility through receiving doors and, at times, hitch a ride in on shipments.
To limit your risk, make sure that exterior receiving doors seal tightly when closed, because it doesn’t take pests much room to sneak through. Rats only need an opening the size of a quarter, mice a dime, and cockroaches a fraction of an inch.
Inspect all shipments for signs of pests, such as damaged packaging. Keep your receiving areas clean, well lit, and free of unnecessary stockpiles; pests see clutter as a perfect hiding place. Containers with ingredients, or even dry goods, should remain closed with airtight lids and stored at least six inches off the floor and 18 inches away from walls.
Dispose of empty and unused cardboard boxes as quickly as possible. Cockroaches and other crawling pests can hide within the ridges of boxes, and the glue can serve as a food source for roaches.
While the weather may be cold right now, spring is right around the corner. Before you decide on any landscaping changes, think about the pests you may attract. Cut back grassy areas, and avoid using large amounts of mulch, which provides hiding spots that allow pests to nest and multiply before finding a way inside your building. No plants or shrubs should touch your building, giving crawling pests a way to get in. If possible, add a two-foot gravel strip between your bushes and your walls to deter rodents that use shrubbery to cover their movements around your building.