Warm temperatures have arrived, which means summer is right around the corner! Unfortunately, it also signals prime pest season.
Think: If you were a pest, where would you go? Pests can detect food at a distance and will aim straight for the source, which could very likely be inside of your food processing facility. Because many pests are tiny and can fit through small spaces, they can be incredibly difficult to keep out—you might not even realize when pests are hiding in the facility. But ahead of your next audit, you’ll want to do everything to prevent and remove them so there aren’t any surprises that take points off your score.
Most facilities are already employing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to proactively help prevent pests from finding a way inside. If you haven’t yet implemented an IPM program, then do so as soon as possible. IPM is a customizable, sustainable solution that focuses on prevention and exclusion tactics for pest management, using traditional treatments only as a last resort. Each IPM program is tailored to the individual facility, considering a variety of factors including region, surrounding environment, facility design, and more to create the most effective plan possible. Documentation is essential to IPM programs, serving as a measure of success and marking the need for program changes to you and your pest management provider, which in turn demonstrates preventive control program and pest management efforts and progress to an auditor.
It’s important that an IPM program is in place before summer, or you’ll run the risk of an infestation. The three most likely pests to invade food processing facilities and cause a problem are cockroaches, ants, and flies. These pests pose the biggest threat to facilities, especially since infestations can set in rapidly during summer’s prime conditions for pest activity.
A year-round threat, cockroaches pose a unique challenge to food processing facilities. Over their multi-million-year history, cockroaches have become one of the most resilient creatures in the world. A notoriously hardy pest, they can sometimes find their way inside by hitchhiking on products or employees’ personal belongings, although usually cockroaches come in directly from the outdoors. Vents, sewage pipes, and drain pipes are all potential points of entry.
Cockroaches are less likely to be spotted during business hours than some other pests because they’re nocturnal pests, most often in hiding during the day. Cockroaches are known to hide when they sense danger as well, which can make them even more difficult to detect at times. When one is spotted, it is usually a good signal that more are present and hiding in the facility walls, basement, or other areas with less human traffic. A cockroach sighting could mean that it was forced out of hiding due to overcrowding, which is never something you want behind the scenes.
Known disease spreaders, cockroaches leave dangerous pathogens wherever they travel. They aren’t picky eaters, so they frequently can be found around garbage and other organic waste. After mulling around and collecting microscopic particles on their legs and bodies, they can then transfer these particles onto products and equipment by simply walking over them. The CDC notes that cockroaches have been known carriers of Salmonella typhimirium, Entamoeba histolytica, and the poliomyelitis virus. Alongside the several dangerous diseases they can cause, their saliva, feces, and shedding body parts can also trigger allergy and asthma issues.
Rapid reproduction is another facet of cockroaches that makes them such a problem. There are many different species of cockroaches, and reproduction times differ slightly between them. However, the American cockroach (one of the most common) can lay eggs that will hatch approximately 15 cockroach nymphs in about a month.