Tag Archives: pest control

Frank Meek, Orkin
Bug Bytes

Make Your Facility A No-Fly Zone: Fly Prevention Practices

By Frank Meek
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Frank Meek, Orkin

Flies are speedy breeders, disease spreaders, vectors of contamination and a costly pest for food manufacturing and processing facilities if not handled appropriately. One female fly can create hundreds of eggs in five or six days and potentially introduce many microorganisms and pathogens.

It might be surprising that such a small pest can have a major impact on your business, but luckily there are preventive measures you can implement to help keep their presence to a minimum while ensuring food safety regulations are met.

The types of flies that impact food-handling establishments the most are “filth” flies, which transmit diseases, and “nuisance” flies, which typically do not. While these pests are all flies, different types of flies require different control methods.

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What attracts flies to your facility? “Filth” flies (such as house flies and blow flies) are attracted to odors first, then food waste, organic build up, sewage and feces. In comparison, “nuisance” flies (such as vinegar/fruit flies, drain flies and phorid flies) flock to overripe or decaying fruits, vegetables or other organic materials.

Flies typically enter buildings through frequently opened doors and improperly sealed openings such as drains/pipes, ventilation systems and windows. Because of this, preventive tactics like exclusion should be an important part of your pest control program.

The best way to help deter flies is to seek a pest control provider that offers an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. IPM is a sustainable system that focuses on the prevention of pests by implementing proactive techniques that help reduce the need for reactive treatments. A successful IPM program is environmentally conscious and addresses the reasons pests are attracted to your facility. IPM is comprised of a team effort between you and your pest control provider. Once implemented, your IPM program should be reviewed annually with your pest management professional to ensure continued improvement.

Now that you’re aware of what causes these flies to frequent your place of business and the best way to deter them, here are some tips that will help while working closely with your pest control provider:

Sanitation

Proper sanitation can help eliminate the items pests are attracted to. As mentioned earlier, vinegar flies and phorid are attracted to food, grease and other organic matter that can accumulate in drains and other places. Foul odors from decaying foods can also attract flies, which is why maintaining a sanitary environment is essential to keeping these pests away. Proper sanitation can also help reduce the possibility of transmission of diseases and contamination of products, which in turn will protect your business’s reputation and bottom line. Here are a few steps you can take now to improve your sanitation routine, so flies stay away:

  • Keep dumpsters and trash cans as far away from the facility as possible and work with your waste management company to routinely clean or rotate your dumpster so flies and other harmful pests aren’t enticed.
  • Install an odor control device where needed to eliminate any foul smells that might attract flies.
  • Remove trash, debris and food from areas like employee lockers or breakrooms multiple times throughout the day.
  • Keep tight lids on interior trash receptacles, change the liners daily and regularly clean out the bottom of the bins.
  • Regularly clean machinery that handles food, as joints and crevices can build up organic matter and attract pests.
  • Wipe down counters and high-touch areas using a proper disinfectant so you can remove any bacteria and pathogens on the surface as well.

Sanitation is crucial to the food processing, manufacturing and service industries due to the importance of food safety. If you don’t already have a rigorous sanitation routine in place, work with your pest control provider to review your current schedule and how you can improve it to help ensure flies are kept outside where they belong.

Facility Maintenance and Exclusion

Part of keeping pests out involves making sure your facility is kept in a good condition. Flies don’t need a lot of space to get in and out of buildings, and a well-maintained business can help keep all kinds of pests away.

Exclusion—using preventive methods to help eliminate pest entry points—is another helpful way to keep flies from entering your facility. The following tips will help keep flies out of your buildings:

  • Walk through your facility regularly with your pest control provider to address any facility maintenance work that should be done and pest control methods that need to be refreshed.
  • Seal any cracks, holes and crevices as soon as you notice them to avoid pests accessing your building.
  • Have fly lights and mechanical traps installed to monitor fly activity and further customize your treatment plan. These traps can be used in many areas of your facility. Work with your pest control provider to determine the best locations and type of device needed. It’s important to keep in mind that fly lights and mechanical traps monitor the efficiency of your overall fly control program, and alone are not a complete control option.
  • Seal all doors and windows with weather stripping. This will aid in closing the small gaps that flies hunt for when doors and windows are closed.
  • Limit lighting around the entrances of your facility to help discourage flying insects. If you must, use sodium-vapor light bulbs near entryways, as these are less appealing to insects than fluorescent bulbs (which draw pests in, especially at night)
  • Work with your pest control provider to train your staff on a protocol for spotting and reporting signs of pest activity. This can help catch pests before they become a bigger problem and helps you save time and money later. After all, your employees know your facility just as well as you do.

Flies in your facility can be a symptom of a problem, and the source of that problem will be unique to the fly species and weak spots in your specific facility. It’s important to maintain a fly prevention plan that will ensure the safety of your employees, products and customers as well as your reputation.

Most pest control providers offer complimentary staff training that clarifies the role your employees play in preventing pest infestations. With help from your employees, maintaining a successful fly control program can become an easy part of your daily operations. By following these tips and partnering with a reliable pest control provider who understands your industry and unique needs, your facility will be on its way to being a no-fly zone in no time.

Ben Schreiber, ActiveSense
Bug Bytes

How ERM Can Simplify Pest Management

By Benjamin Schreiber
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Ben Schreiber, ActiveSense

Whether you work in food manufacturing, distribution or retail, pests are both a fact of life as well as a regulatory disruption. At the same time, pest management solutions aren’t always clear-cut: While there are a variety of effective strategies employed by pest management professionals (PMPs) servicing the food industry, industry challenges—shifting regulatory standards, a lack of proper documentation and more—can complicate the process. For these reasons, short-term rodent problems can become long-term logistical nightmares, leaving food manufacturers in an undesirable situation when a third-party food plant auditor arrives.

Fortunately, emerging technologies in pest management practices are helping facility managers streamline their food and beverage quality assurance processes, reducing the risk of product loss, regulatory action, improper brand management and more. Specifically, electronic remote monitoring (ERM) allows PMPs to detect and monitor rodents in real time, providing you with important information to help reduce risk and increase audit compliance. As such, the value of food safety pest management strategies that incorporate ERM systems is only growing. Seeking out PMPs who use ERM allows you to invest in technologies that protect your margins, ensure the quality of your product and, ultimately, safeguard your most important asset—your reputation.

Modernizing Pest Management With ERM

At first glance, it might seem like pest management practices haven’t drastically changed since they were first implemented in the food manufacturing industry. Many rodent trapping systems remain similar to their original design: Devices designed to trap or kill that must be individually inspected and serviced by professional technicians. Technicians must then relay any risks to facility managers, who have to determine if additional resources are needed to avoid product loss or audit-based infractions.

Upon closer examination, it’s clear that while pests themselves have not significantly changed, both the pest management industry and the modern food supply chain have become increasingly complex. Food facility managers must contend with increasingly stringent food safety standards, and PMPs must rise to meet these needs with evolving pest management strategies.

In many ways, ERM technologies are the structural pest control industry’s response to these challenges, providing technicians with real-time notifications about rodent behavior and allowing them to make risk-based assessments that identify and treat problems before infestations occur. Unlike pest control strategies that rely on periodic service visits from technicians, PMPs who utilize ERM technology can monitor pest activity around the clock, 24/7/365, in virtually any environment. Instead of monitoring individual traps, PMPs can use ERM technology to know exactly when and where pest activity occurs, including in hard-to-monitor areas such as drop ceilings, crawlspaces, shelving undersides and other traditionally overlooked spaces. Technicians then receive valuable analytics from each trap they install, as well as documentation and reporting, that help managers achieve audit and regulatory compliance.

FSMA and ERM

In 2015, the FDA issued the final component of preventative control for human food under FSMA, officially enacting legislation that requires food safety plants to focus on risk-based pest prevention instead of reactive pest control strategies. As a result, quality assurance professionals and facility managers are often tasked with reallocating personnel toward proactive pest control activities in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities.

In many ways, ERM systems go hand-in-hand with FSMA and GFSI regulations. While preparing for a situation that hasn’t yet occurred can be a costly and time-consuming process, ERM has helped PMPs develop custom pest management strategies that assess and control situations in accordance with FSMA and other auditing firm guidelines. In many ways, ERM can provide all parties—PMPs, in-house auditors and third-party regulators—with a track record of pest history that all parties can cross-reference when assessing a facility.

From Risk-Averse to Risk-Based

When it comes to food safety rules and regulations, the only constant is change. In the structural pest control industry, auditors have historically implemented strict guidelines about trap placement that are frequently changing: For instance, traps should be placed every 10, 15, or 20 feet, regardless of facility susceptibility to various pest conditions. Failure to comply with regulations can result in point deductions on audits, even if the conditions that might lead to an infestation are not present. As such, food processing plants often choose to abide by the most stringent audit guidelines imposed upon them by other parties, such as retailers. By utilizing ERM technologies, food safety and quality assurance professionals can use additional pest monitoring analytics to focus on specific compliance issues, rather than spending additional time and money on other strategies.

Additionally, ERM allows PMPs to focus their efforts not only on weekly service visits and station checks, but also on important tasks, including assessing facility vulnerabilities, tracking rodent access points, and providing consultation and additional management strategies to their client—you.

Approaching the Audit with ERM

Food plant managers and retailers alike know that auditor approval is everything. Because ERM is a fast-developing technology, many quality assurance managers and facility owners are curious to know if ERM is audit approved. In truth, there are many kinds of audits, each with different goals, assessment techniques and regulatory standards. When it comes to audits, the gold standard is not necessarily the assessment of the facility and production line itself, but rather how well the assessment matches records kept by the food production plant.

To this end, ERM might be the answer to a streamlined audit process. No matter what kind of audit a plant is currently undergoing, ERM allows PMPs to provide records auditors need to verify that all systems are working properly. ERM can mean the difference between a streamlined process and a laborious audit, acting as a documentation system that helps officials conduct a PMP-verified “second-check.” This kind of verification is invaluable in an industry where there are already more than enough regulatory categories to consider without having to further worry about potential pest infestations.

ERM-Oriented Solutions

Thanks to the many advantages they offer, ERM and other remote pest monitoring technologies are growing in popularity. Many facility managers appreciate that ERM allows them to assess pest activity, prevent infestations before they occur, gather data that helps them remain industry-compliant, and acquire and share information with additional parties. If you’re a facility manager, quality assurance professional or other food safety decision-maker interested in the opportunities ERM technologies provide, consider starting the conversation about your pest prevention system with your PMP and how ERM might help improve it.

Trust, But Verify

There is an overwhelming consensus in the pest control industry that technology should be developed to provide end-users with more information. ERM systems are a natural extension of this belief, providing each component of the food production and distribution supply chain—manufacturers, distributors, retailers, quality assurance officials, technicians and others—with more data about how pest control decisions are made. Without data, it can be difficult to ensure technician service visits end in greater transparency about the issues facility owners will face as they prepare for an audit.

Fortunately, ERM can help provide the level of trust and assurance plant managers need to feel confident in their day-to-day operations. ERM is an important step forward for manufacturer-regulator relations, which require a strong combination of data, trust and transparency to ensure that communication systems don’t break down. After all, there are many industries in which miscommunication can lead to catastrophic consequences, and food production is no exception.

While each manufacturing facility, processing plant, distribution center, storage warehouse and retail outlet is different, none are insusceptible to pest infestations, and none can avoid audits required to keep them compliant. Because rigorous oversight is crucial for food producers and consumers alike, working with your PMP to develop pest monitoring strategies that utilize ERM systems and other cutting-edge technologies should be part of your larger pest control consideration process.

In the end, the pest infestation that causes the least damage to your product, profit potential and industry reputation is the infestation that never occurs.

Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management
Bug Bytes

Did Barcode Scanning Kill IPM Inspections?

By Alec Senese
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Alec Senese, Bayer Crop Science, Digital Pest Management

Barcode placement on rodent traps was introduced as a simple and seemingly obvious way to make sure that the work of an IPM inspection was being performed. Each trap would have to be manually inspected in order to scan the barcode, providing proof that the task was completed.

While this method may be a great way to ensure an important job is being done, the problem with this approach is that it does not ensure the most important jobs are being done. In facilities that are large and complex, the act of checking and scanning traps is a lengthy and laborious process. This leaves little time for thorough investigative inspection and corrective actions, which are a vital part of preventing future rodent problems. Pest control technicians’ time should be spent using their understanding of pest biology and behavior to be pest detectives in your facility, not spending the majority of their time on time-consuming tasks that require little brainpower.

So did barcode scanning kill IPM inspections? Probably not, but it certainly didn’t help.