Monitoring devices/traps. The best food safety plans include a map noting monitoring equipment, traps, and any other devices used in and around the facility to minimize pest populations. For each device, record the locations and activity levels. The trend report from the collected data will give insight as to what issues need to be addressed immediately, helping to make management decisions. Pest management professionals should note activity each time they come out, and many already have systems in place that can pull together trend reports. Including this information will show any inquisitive auditor you mean business when it comes to proactive food safety.
Annual assessments. Review your IPM program and how it relates to the food safety plan every year. Specifically, look at the facility’s pest problems and talk through how to resolve and prevent them with a pest management provider. These annual assessments will help uncover recurring problem areas and hot spots around the facility, allowing you to better target the plan to address those concerns. Also, auditors will be looking for these yearly assessments.
Sighting reports. Pests and evidence of pests spotted within the facility should be recorded in a logbook. Typically referred to as a “pest sighting log,” this will help a pest management professional refine their investigation and better target the areas most plagued. The report should include information about the location of the pest problem within the facility, who found it, and the number of pests spotted. Capturing the pest is ideal, but it’s not always feasible to do so. In that case, photo evidence helps with identification, so obtain a close-up picture of the pest(s) if possible. Usually, employees will be the first to see pest problems, so make sure they know what to do when it happens!
It takes team effort to have a traceable, proactive IPM program. Typically, it’s recommended that employees keep an eye out for pests in areas most relevant to their job title and where they work. Don’t make it too difficult for employees to complete assigned inspections or else they won’t do it.
These documents can help trace when and where pest issues began so businesses can work on a customized solution to resolve problems. Openly sharing news about documented pest issues with supply chain partners can prevent pests from sneaking into shipments and contaminating product.
Making It Work
To make this all work in reality, first, hold a training session in partnership with the pest management professional and get as many employees there as possible. Discuss the most common pests around the facility and where they’re most likely to be found. Then, arm employees with an action plan they should use when a sighting does occur. Everything should be recorded in the logbook, which will help ensure issues are resolved quickly. Make sure employees know where to find it, and consider having a few logbooks at different, convenient locations around the facility.
Next, give some basic assignments to employees. For example, the forklift operator in charge of moving products into a warehouse could keep an eye out for stored product pests. Meanwhile, the employees working around the assembly line could be tasked with inspecting and wiping down equipment at the end of each day, which will help minimize attractants.
There are a lot of ways to diversify roles and make sure employees keep an eye out for pests. If unsure about how to go about this, talk to the pest management professional. For starters, employees need to know the signs of pests.