Successful battles against pests can be accomplished with a variety of environmental friendly and purely holistic deterrent measures that can be carried out safely by the processing company itself. The following is a suggestive check list that companies can utilize as part of their pest control management program for abating pests:
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- Replacing worn non-toxic glueboards/ strips for both terrain and air invading pests that are chemically safe. These can serve as visual semaphores of any looming pest activities for both inside and outside buildings. Over time, documentation of invading pests can be gathered to form a “seasonal trend analysis” that can be referenced to in battling against harbinger pests.
- Clearing of brush, weeds, tree appendages and dissimilar flora from direct contact with buildings. Ideally a clearance of at least 12 feet from all building structures from foliage is ideal.
- Daily hosing of sidewalks, exterior employee break areas, including parking lots, will expunge any residual excreted pheromones and other attractants including the pest scouts themselves.
- Placing of trash and recycling containers down wind and away from buildings. Exterior trash barrels lined with plastic and changed out every day.
- All exterior storage of material oddments (wooden pallets, maintenance materials, etc.) placed on racks or dissimilar objects will enable storage of at least six inches up off the ground.
- Placing of nighttime lighting fixtures (yellow vapor lighting) away from the building, thus naturally coaxing nocturnal pests away from buildings.
- Weekly employee locker inspections supplemented by company policies that prohibit the storage of food and beverages in lockers.
- Providing refrigerators for employee storage of foods and beverages.
- Consistent and preventive good house keeping practices commingled with sound infrastructure maintenance protocols (i.e.; shoring up entry areas of the plant such as door jams, windows, vents, dock doors, etc.) will limit most pest infiltrations.
Pest control companies serve a significant role as the “lead stewards” in battling unwanted pests while concomitantly consulting plant management with pragmatic pest abatement tutelage. However, processing establishments ultimately possess the day to day responsibility and accountability with regards to controlling unwanted pests.
Food processors should perform documented audits several times a year with their contracted pest control company. A high percentage of plants will be surprised with their initial findings. Periodic meetings between plant management and the pest control company should be scheduled to communicate audit results and create collective plans of corrections and preventive improvements. Pest control companies need to be attentive to the fact that they will be audited, monitored and held accountable for their paid contracted performances.
A good starting point for a generic pest control audit includes the following areas:
- Is the pest control operator(s) (PCO) licensed, insured and certified? Are all of the certificates updated and available upon request?
- Is there a written customized pest control program that meets the unique needs of the processing company at hand?
- Are the internal and external trap maps of the facility updated and accurate?
- Are the pesticides that are used approved by all germane regulatory agencies (i.e.; EPA, USDA, OSHA, etc.) including individual handling procedures on file?
- Is there MSDS sheets available for each pesticide used?
- Are the PCO service reports, including relevant usage logs, current and available for review?
- Is there a seasonal pest activity trend report with corrective actions identified?
- Are all pest traps located so as not to contaminate product, packaging material and equipment?
- Is it necessary to store pesticides/poisons on site? If so, are they stored with lock and key accompanied with an ongoing inventory?
- Is an assigned plant employee contacted beforehand whenever pest service is rendered in consideration of both plant and food safety/security?
- Is plant management made aware in advance of any interior non-residual crack and crevice treatments?
- Are the number and placement of exterior bait stations clean of dirt and debris following each inspection? Are the poison bait stations fully loaded, secured and tamper resistant?
- Are doors, docks and other building openings pest resistant?
- Are insect control devices properly positioned and fully maintained?
- Have exterior harborage sites been identified and eliminated?
- Is there any evidence of internal or external pest activity? If so what were the corrective actions taken and what preventive actions will be implemented.
Under the Sanitation Performance Standards for USDA Inspected Establishments, 9 CFR 416.2 cites: “Grounds and pest control: The grounds about an establishment must be maintained to prevent conditions that could lead to unsanitary conditions, adulteration of product, or interfere with inspection by FSIS program employees. Establishments must have in place a pest control management program to prevent the harborage and breeding of pests on the grounds and within establishment facilities. Pest control substances used must be safe and effective under the conditions of use and not be applied or stored in a manner that will result in the adulteration of product or the creation of unsanitary conditions.”