Stored product pests. Although there are many different species of stored product pests that can affect a food processing facility, all are adept at thriving in and around products undetected. The Indian meal moth, for example, has small, cream-colored larvae that will eat just about anything. Tiny and right at home in product packaging, these pests will wreck a batch of products and then move on to the next. Pheromone traps can help with detection, so make sure employees know what they are and why they are there.
Rodents. Rats and mice can carry disease-causing pathogens, which can rub off onto any surface the rodent comes into contact with. Both rats and mice are capable of fitting through tiny gaps (mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime, while rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter), so any gaps on the exterior of a building serve as a doorway. If rodents are suspected but haven’t yet been spotted, look for droppings and yellowish-brown grease marks around corners and along baseboards. Search for gnaw marks around gaps and openings in walls and on products too. Remember, rodents want to be out of sight. That’s why they skitter along walls and stay away from humans as much as possible.
Cockroaches. One of the most resilient and persistent pests around, cockroaches can get through miniscule gaps and will feed on just about anything, quickly becoming a terror for food processing facilities. If they’re not promptly removed, cockroaches can reproduce rapidly. A few cockroaches can create an infestation in a matter of months, especially with an abundant food supply. If a cockroach is seen during the day, it’s a good sign it’s time to act quickly. Cockroaches are most active at night, so spotting one during the day likely means others are lurking behind the scenes.
To obtain this trend data and see the hot spots around a facility, monitoring devices are likely necessary. Whether using pheromone traps to reduce stored product pest populations, bait stations to trap rodents, or fly lights to capture flying pests, these tools identify what types of pests and how many are lurking behind the scenes.
Pests are resilient and persistent. They’ll do whatever it takes to get to the food, water, and shelter needed to survive.
Pest pressure doesn’t just disappear overnight. Consistent improvement and effort are necessary to reduce it. But keeping track of pest population trends around the facility can help you and your pest management professional keep a pulse on the pests plaguing your business.
If your facility is affected by pests and you haven’t implemented proactive, traceable policies, you’re going to have a tough time finding and removing pests. Protect your brand from negative publicity and your facility from costly shutdowns by keeping tabs on the pest populations and then do everything you can to keep them out.
The best time to implement a proactive approach to food safety was yesterday. The second-best time is now.
Hartzer, a technical services manager for Orkin LLC, is a board-certified entomologist and provides technical support and guidance across all Rollins brands in the areas of operations, marketing, and training. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.