Pest control is an element of facilities management that can save lives and the business bottom line. fmME looks into integrated pest management systems and gives you a check list to keep your facility safe.
The cornerstone of an effective integrated pest management (IPM) programme is a schedule of regular inspections. These inspections should focus on areas where pests are most likely to appear: receiving docks, storage areas, employee break rooms, sites of recent ingredient spills et al. Also, identify any potential entry points, food and water sources, or harborage zones that might encourage pest problems. The following steps give a framework to build an IPM programme around.
As regular inspections reveal vulnerabilities in your pest management programme, take steps to address them before they cause a real problem in your facility.
Once you have properly identified the pest, you need to understand why it’s in your facility. Is there food debris or moisture accumulation that may be attracting it? What about odours? How are the pests finding their way in - through walls or the floor?
One of the most effective prevention measures is exclusion, performing structural maintenance to close potential entry points revealed during inspection.
By physically keeping pests out, you can reduce the need for chemical countermeasures, which should be considered as the last course of action. Likewise, sanitation and housekeeping will eliminate potential food and water sources, reducing the attraction for pests. Identification
Different pests have different behaviours. By identifying the problematic species, pests can be eliminated more efficiently and with the least risk of harm to other organisms. Professional pest management always starts with the correct identification of the pest in question. Make sure your pest control provider undergoes rigorous training in pest identification and behaviour.
Once you have properly identified the pest, you need to understand why it is in your facility. Is there food debris or moisture accumulation that may be attracting it? What about odours? How are the pests finding their way in - through the floors or walls? Could incoming shipments be infested? The answers to these questions will lead to the best choice of control techniques.
Integrated pest management stresses the use of non-chemical control methods, such as exclusion or trapping, before moving to chemical options. When other control methods have failed or are inappropriate for the situation, chemicals may be used in their least volatile formulations in targeted areas.
Often, the right treatment will consist of a combination of responses, from chemical treatments to baiting to trapping. But by focusing on non-chemical options first, you can ensure that your pest management programme is effectively eliminating pests at the least risk to your food safety programme, non-target organisms and the environment.
You’ll also see higher pest control scores at audit time.
Since pest management is an ongoing process, constantly monitoring your facility for pest activity, implementing operational changes can protect against infestation and help eliminate existing ones.
The IPM programme recognises that pest management is a process, not a one-time event, and that relying on chemical controls, when so many other tools are available, is never the best solution - ever.
Indeed, as the pest management professional may visit the facility on a bi-weekly or weekly basis, your personnel on the ground need to be the daily eyes and ears of the IPM programme. Employees should be aware of sanitation issues that affect the programme, and should report any signs of pest activity to minimise costly downtime when reacting to an infestation of any sort.
The food safety auditor’s visit can make or break your business. Since pest control can account for up to 20 percent of your total score, it’s imperative that your IPM programme is ready for scrutiny at audit time. Up-to-date pest control documentation is one of the first signs to an auditor that your facility takes pest control seriously.
Important documents include a scope of service, pest activity reports, service reports, corrective action reports, trap layout maps, lists of approved pesticides, pesticide usage reports and applicator licenses.
To ensure that your IPM programme reaches its potential, approach your relationship with your pest management professional as a partnership. Open communication and cooperation between you, your staff and your provider is key. The benefits are fewer headaches, safer products and better audit scores.
For retailers, the summer heat often translates into unwanted insects and rodents on-site. Such pests impact the bottom line, and are not that easy to get rid of. Once an infestation has occurred, it can be difficult to eliminate. Prevention is by far the easiest and most cost effective way to control pest problems. Pests are attracted to stores and other commercial buildings because these facilities frequently offer food, moisture, shelter and optimal pest temperatures. By removing access to these elements, retailers can make their stores uninviting to insects as well as rodents.
Pests often enter stores through openings around windows and doors and around utility penetrations. Eliminating these unnecessary openings makes the building much less enticing and accessible. Food processing environments
A pest infestation can put a business’ reputation at risk because nobody wants a foreign body in a product. And pest management in such environments is also very sensitive.
Special precautions must be taken to keep pest control treatments from threatening food safety. To better control pests while respecting a food plant’s sensitive environmental needs, apply the principles of IPM.
The IPM programme recognises that pest management is a process, not a one-time event, and that relying solely on chemical controls when so many other tools are available is never the best solution.
Research from the American Allergy Institute shows cockroach excrement and cast skins contain allergens that aggravate asthma - among a number of other health threats to humans.
By addressing the underlying causes of pest infestations the IPM programme can prevent infestation before harmful pesticides are even considered for the job.
Hospitals, cockroaches and pathogens
Maintaining a sterile environment for all patients, especially those with a compromised immune system, is extremely important, and pests like cockroaches pose a threat to that environment of care.
Cockroaches can carry bacteria on the outside of their bodies, and if they find their way inside your facility they can then transfer those pathogens to the surrounding environment. But an effective sanitation and facility maintenance programme can help keep these pests from endangering patients, staff, reputation and bottom line.
A number of health threats are associated with cockroaches including conjunctivitis, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and asthma. In fact, research from the American Allergy Institute shows that cockroach excrement and cast skins contain allergens that aggravate asthma. Because cockroaches walk through trash and filth, they pick up bacteria in less than sterile environments.
Cockroaches have existed for more than 350 million years because they’ve adapted to their environment. When other food sources don’t exist, they will eat almost anything including dust, glue and eyelashes to survive. As long as they have a water source they can survive without food for two months.
If you spot a cockroach in your facility, it’s important to work with a pest management professional to quickly identify the source of the problem. A pair of German cockroaches can produce 400 offspring in six months, and if those offspring mate it can result in hundreds of thousands of cockroaches in a year.
Even one cockroach sighting can signal the possibility of a future infestation. If you see a cockroach, document where you saw it, at what time and any conditions that could contribute to why it is there, such as a leaking sink.
One pest-monitoring method is the use of small glue boards, which have a sticky, non-toxic surface. Place them strategically around the problem area to capture cockroaches and determine their traffic patterns.
As with all pest management, involve professionals, who can ensure that the devices are used correctly and safely and placed in areas away of patients, staff and visitors.
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