Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series of articles that provide a practical approach to various pest control topics.
Paper trails. They don’t have a great reputation, do they? In fact, during most scenarios when paper trails are mentioned in conversation, the general consensus is the group doesn’t want a paper trail to be left. The group simply doesn’t want to allow any evidence to exist that would track its steps and actions.
However, when it comes to pest management and food safety, you undoubtedly need to have a paper trail. Documentation is the key to proving to an auditor that your facility has an efficient and effective pest management program. The pest control portion of your facility’s third-party food safety audit can account for up to 20 percent of the final score, and without proper documentation, your facility doesn’t stand a chance.
Food processing plants are governed by several third-party audit standards, with the most common being the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), Safe Quality Food (SQF), the British Retail Consortium (BRC), and other food safety certification criteria. Other third-party food safety auditors like American Institute of Baking (AIB), NSF, Silliker, and YUM! Brands use similar standards to make sure the facilities they audit are compliant with the food safety requirements.
These auditors inspect pest management programs to ensure that no pests—no matter how big or small—can put your company’s products in danger of contamination. Auditors like AIB, Silliker, and YUM! Brands actually consider pest control to be so important that they will give a failing score (for the pest control section) to a facility without even the slightest hesitation if they find significant problems with the pest management program. With that in mind, it is essential to thoroughly prepare your team and facility for third-party audits.
The Need for Documentation
Although auditors inspect your facility for proper placement of pest management devices and storage of pest management materials, documentation cannot be overlooked. Documentation is the only piece of evidence that demonstrates your facility’s adherence to a formal pest management program. Without documentation, there is no way to verify the proper processes are being carried out, and as a result, you may end up with a mediocre audit score.
What Documentation Includes
The first piece of documentation required by auditors is the scope of service of the pest management program. This document outlines the roles and responsibilities of the pest management professional, as well as the facility staff. It also details the kinds of pests that will be targeted by the program and how their activity will be managed.
At the end of every service visit, your pest management professional should fill out a signed service report that includes comprehensive details on the tasks that were executed and the date completed. These service reports are extremely important to your facility, as third-party auditors review them to confirm your facility and pest management professional are following the guidelines set forth in the scope of service by taking necessary corrective and preventive actions.
On-site documentation should also include a pesticide usage log. Improper pesticide application can pose a massive threat to food safety because products can be contaminated as a result, so the pesticide usage log exists to assure the third-party auditor that your pest management professional is using these materials appropriately. The pesticide usage log should detail all pest management materials that have been used, in addition to the trade name and active ingredients in each product. Dates, times, and sites of applications, as well as the targeted pests and frequency of applications, are also key details to include in the pesticide usage log. The pest management professional must sign the log to validate its authenticity.