When it comes to food pest control, most casual observers of the food chain will think of the growing stage as the key problem area. Not so. One of the principle problems associated with crop pest control is when produce is placed in storage.
And here’s another area of misconception: It would be wrong to think that pest control in stored products centers largely on grain and cereal silos. There are problems in just about every stage of the chain; manufacturing and processing plants, supermarket warehouses, restaurants, shipping containers and so on.
This article will explore a variety of insect pests that prevail in these different areas of food storage – all of which have become highly adapted to their environments and are not commonly found elsewhere – and some of the innovative techniques emerging to combat them.
Moths, beetles and weevils are the principal pests in question. These are the groups that target stored products and pose a whole set of serious problems. When they defecate on the product, toxins are produced by the fungi and disease is created.
These toxins can cause human illness and – potentially – the production of deadly mycotoxins that not only lead to illness in most livestock, but also have also been linked to some forms of human cancer. Aside from these dangers, one should not overlook the fact that pests also pose a serious consumer annoyance in the form of discolored or mutilated food products. To say nothing of the fact that certain types of pests can destroy or damage the foods nutritional value.
As with crop situations, pest populations in stored product can be monitored and managed in a number of ways. Pesticides are commonly used, with storage areas being fumigated or surface dressings of insecticide applied and mixed directly into the crop. But concerns about chemical residues are causing a seismic shift in this area of the pest control industry.