Pests and the contaminants they transmit pose a threat to every food operation and a facility can face enormous losses from recalls or bad publicity associated with a product’s quality or a safety issue.
Keeping plant and products free of pests and contaminants is critical to the success of your organization. When a pest problem occurs, most businesses implement reactionary measures immediately to ensure the infestation is managed and ends quickly. However, food processing, storage, and handling sites must also place emphasis on pest management prevention and have an existing plan in place in case an infestation occurs.
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To avoid costly problems and meet or exceed the requirements of internal and external pest management audits, it is important to employ proactive sanitation and maintenance strategies.
Top 10 Pest Control Strategies
Here are the top 10 strategies your food processing plant should already be implementing.
1. Make sure your master sanitation schedule is adequate and up to date. Food processing facilities are continually remodeling and changing equipment and processes, which can make it challenging to keep the Master Sanitation Schedule up to date and followed. However, master sanitation schedules are fundamental components of sanitation programs and chronic pest infestations can often be linked to sanitation deficiencies.
Having a schedule in place helps eliminate pest food and harborages, while cleaning schedules disrupt pest developmental cycles. Sanitation schedules also address microbiological risks and general housekeeping. Create and follow an updated ideal master sanitation schedule and be prepared to explain the potential risks if it cannot be followed. Pest management barcode software, periodic dashboard reports, and corporate sanitarians can successfully push critical communications up the management ladder. Also, capital funding can be made available for facility improvements when the need and risks are clearly communicated to the right people.
2. Make the business case for sanitation and pest management. Sanitation touches every department in a plant—invite managers from each department to participate in periodic inspections to show and share their needs. When making the business case, it is important to highlight that some operator cleanup or disassembly is more efficient than sanitation staff doing the work and creates less delays in startup. Also, emergency shutdowns with lines full of product are costlier than planned shutdowns, which can be managed more efficiently and can assure more sustainable product safety and quality.
3. Avoid product spillage and storing dead equipment and hardware supplies. Equipment “bone yards,” litter, vegetation, waste management, and production spillage are great harborages for insects and rodents. Store hardware and equipment in an orderly manner and off the floor or ground. Reducing and managing product spillage improves pest management and operational efficiencies.
And remember the roof. Product leaks on the roof become attractive to many insect, rodent, and bird pests. Also consider methods that may be available to reduce bird harborages and roosting opportunities on rooftops.
4. Manage waste. Processing is often well-designed, but livestock feed byproduct (waste) sits in open bins or accumulates in waste load-out areas that are pest hotspots. Lingering waste residue, leakage, and waste collection sites outdoors can quickly become problematic if not managed properly.
5. Close the door and fix the gaps. A tremendous number of insect and rodent issues can be traced to simple outdoor openings. Indoor rodent activity or trapping history often points to doors that stand open, leave gaps, or do not close properly. Correct exclusion issues, including door thresholds and side gaps, fans, air intakes, and other openings.
6. Seal cracks. Pests can spend their lives in cracks and crevices. These may be expansion joints in concrete floors, floor-wall junction cracks, or cracks at the edges of various panels or sheeting materials. Clean cracks out as well as possible, treat them with residual insecticide and fill them with sealant.