In the not too distant past, if there were pests at your warehouse, you called the local pest control company and they would spray the heck out of the place. Well, times have changed and treating warehouse pests with chemicals is not always the best solution.
The two overall methods of maintaining food safety are the corrective method – eliminating the undesirable situation when a condition has been discovered; and the preventive method – anticipating undesirable conditions that may occur and take preventative measures.
In food storage locations, most managers opt for IPM (Integrated Pest Management) services. IPM services take a conservative approach to pest control. The various strategies and monitoring involved in an IPM approach require a more time intensive investment.
The process utilizes regular monitoring to determine if and when treatment is needed. Treatments are not made on a pre-determined schedule that is typically used in traditional pest control services. The individual components of IPM include: inspection, monitoring, assessment, treatment and evaluation. There is also an educational aspect of IPM. It may require retraining employees on sanitary measures, such as: no food outside of break room areas, cleaning product spills immediately, proper storage of raw materials and other measures.
Remedial action does not always include a chemical response. Your Pest Control Operator may suggest a range of solutions including:
- Education of staff. This may include new policies on bringing food into certain areas, or limiting food to a certain area. The Pest Control Operator may suggest better clean up of food residues and that trash be properly disposed of
- Redesign efforts may include rat-proofing, different types of trash receptacles or use of lighting that doesn’t attract insects
- Maintenance activities and habitat modification can be suggested to eliminate water sources that pose an attractive habitat for pests. It may be suggested the plant use more aggressive caulking of cracks, screening vents, better cleaning procedures and repair of water leaks
- Physical control would be in place. This would include things such as traps for rats and mice, pheromone traps and the like. A qualified technician will be able to advise you of proper protocols and placement of traps. He or she will know even if a pheromone trap hasn’t caught any insects, the placement may need to be adjusted
- Chemical solution will be suggested as a last resort starting with non-toxic and lastly chemical applications
The objective of a food safety program is a facility free of insect and rodent evidence as well as products free of extraneous materials and bacteria.
Every food plant involved in receipt of raw materials and/or distribution of food will sooner or later be inspected. Being strictly regulated is a part of life in the food industry, it is necessary you be prepared. Part of that preparation will include examination of your pest control logbook.
The IPM operator will provide you with detailed reports of all findings and trends. If pesticides are used, application should be made as indicated by the label by a Certified Applicator or a technician working under the direct supervision of a CA. MSDSs will should be provided for each pesticide used.
Because insects vary in response to various forms of stimulation, environmental conditions, and chemicals; it is important your pest control operator understand the responses so the insects can be controlled. For example, some insects are attracted to ultraviolet light while others, like cockroaches, might be repelled. Your IPM operator is part entomologist and part detective. He or she must be able to discover the source of any infestation and take action to eliminate the source.
IPM is part of a continuum that leads to an environmentally responsible, least toxic program. When selecting a provider you may want to look for certain certifications such as AIB and NPMA. It may be the best choice for warehouse managers involved in food storage and food manufacturing. It may be the best choice for you.