Consider specialty exclusion products as a solution. Xcluder fill fabric compresses during installation to “spring back” once in place and creates a permanent seal, and the stainless-steel poly-fiber combination won’t rust or degrade over time. This type of proven, specialty product offers permanent protection against rodents, and the peace-of-mind that goes along with it.
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Explore This IssueApril/May 2018
Repellents and sonic devices should not be considered viable pest control solutions. Chemical repellents, designed to discourage rodent presence without harming them, are both unsafe for use in the food industry and ineffective overall. Repellents cannot be used near food products, and though the chemicals may cause rodents some amount of discomfort, the resulting distress is not nearly strong enough to deter them from their pursuit of food and shelter. Sonic devices producing ultrahigh or ultralow frequency sounds to deter rodents have been deemed ineffective by the scientific community.
The Importance of Sanitation for Pest Control
A discussion of exclusion best practices would be incomplete without mentioning the wider tenets of integrated pest management, including monitoring and sanitation. The following suggestions from The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control highlight the critical role of sanitation in the fight against rodents.
- Trash must be disposed in clean, tightly-sealed containers and stored as far from the building as possible. Trash removal should be frequent enough to ensure the containers are not a reliable rodent food source, ideally two or more times per week.
- Standing water attracts rodents, especially rats. Gutters should be free of debris and channel water away from the building. Leaky faucets, pipes, and air-conditioning units should be repaired or replaced. Water should not be left standing in sinks overnight, and storage rooms and basements should be dry and well-ventilated.
- Avoid clutter as much as possible—boxes left on the ground are popular nesting grounds for rodents. Cabinet bases, storage shelving voids, and the tiny space behind appliances are also prime targets.
- Storage areas containing bagged or powdered food should be monitored consistently with stock rotated frequently. Whenever possible, store food products away from the walls to reduce the risk of contamination.
- Store food properly in sealed, rodent-proof containers made of metal or hard plastic. Any spills should be addressed as soon as possible.
- Regularly clean and sanitize appliances, equipment, food contact surfaces, and all floors to eliminate any sources of food for rodents. High volume areas where crumbs and trash are likely to accumulate must be cleaned frequently.
- Train employees to notice and report evidence of pests (e.g. rodent droppings in undisturbed areas), which should be addressed immediately.
The battle against rodents is not easily won. But a thorough, well-supported exclusion plan is the most effective tool in keeping rodents out, and absolutely critical in upholding food safety standards. Seek out pest management professionals who understand and support exclusion methods, and work with them to carefully identify and protect all building weaknesses. Do not underestimate the strength and resilience of these tenacious pests; take every precaution necessary and insist upon specialized, rodent-proof product solutions. Encourage all employees to report signs of rodent activity and remember that constant upkeep and monitoring are critical to long-term protection against rodents.
McFadden, the director of research and marketing for Xcluder Pest Control Products, has been serving the commercial and residential pest exclusion industry for many years, touching all levels of the food supply chain from production to retail. Reach him at email@example.com.