09/2021 Issue: Frequently Asked Questions from Food Production Facility Customers About IPM
“Excuse me Mr. Ratguy there is a huge pest I need you to get rid of. It’s a two-legged variety in our office that seems to never go away, and it seems to always appear from nine to five. Can you spray it away?”
The latter may not be a frequently asked integrated pest management (IPM) question in food production facilities, but it tends to be the trending joke in any pest management professional’s career. While spraying first is never the immediate action to use with an IPM approach, it is a commonly asked request by customers. However, we always start by investigating the pest, pest populations, and sanitation and structural conditions first. Below we will cover a series of frequently asked questions from food production facility customers about IPM.
HOW DO WE CONDUCT A SITE RISK ASSESSMENT?
A good site risk assessment has an FSS, Inc. trained and experienced PMP to evaluate a facility and identify all the potential risks associated. They will begin by inspecting the outside and the inside of the facility, make note of adjacent properties, consider the food being processed, and where the final product goes. After assessing all the risks, the PMP will outline what type and where those risks are and provide the dynamic solutions. The outline is not a commitment of what the program will be, but it helps the customer know what dynamic solutions we can provide for the risks that were discovered. Next the customer can decide what solutions bring the most value to their business. We will help identify every risk and solution, not just those with immediate concern. For example, if a facility was more apprehensive about mice than any other pests, we would create a program that acknowledges mice as a higher-level risk. In addition, we would assess the risks for stored product pests, birds, filth flies, and other disease-transmitting pests. The customer may only settle on rodent-based plans but knowing that we communicated other risks gives both parties potential future solutions that can be provided.
I AM A CUSTOMER THAT SHIPS, RECEIVES, AND STORES FOOD PRODUCTS IN A WAREHOUSE. WHAT IS NECESSARY FOR A SUCCESSFUL PEST MANAGEMENT PROGRAM IN MY WAREHOUSE?
In a pecan weevil’s, Curculio caryae nutshell, it all starts with 1) sanitation considerations, 2) building design and pest-proofing, 3) storage practices/pallet management, 4) packaging, 5) insect traps and monitoring, and 6) pesticide applications. From a pest professional standpoint, it is often unsanitary conditions that provide food, water, harborage, or concealed routes of movement for pest and pathogens – sanitary conditions influence whether pest and pathogens will be present and establish in an area to become self-sustaining.
WHAT ARE SPECIFIC AREAS OF A FOOD PLANT THAT ARE HOT SPOTS OR VULNERABLE SITES FOR PEST ENTRY, AND WHAT ARE SOME CONTROL MEASURES THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO PREVENT PEST ENTRY AT THESE SITES?
- Entrances and exit doors
- Pests are very quick to go unnoticed and enter the building when someone leaves a door open and unattended. Some control measures to prevent pest entry can be done by keeping all doors fitted and closed automatically, the material of the door should be metal to prevent degradation from the elements, rodent chewing, and should have an additional screen door that opens outwardly with a tight screen mesh no larger than 12-mesh screen to prevent flying pests to enter but allow airflow where needed.
- Where wooden doors are used, a 12-inch sheet metal (26-gauge) kick plate should be attached to the outside of the door, with the lower edge not more than 1/4” from the floor. The door casing should also be protected with sheet metal, to prevent mice and rats from widening cracks by gnawing.
- For hollow metal doors, spot-welding the seams can prevent insect entry. Door sweeps are also effective at sealing the gap under doors.
- Truck and railcar doors
- Pests enjoy hitching rides so this area can be very vulnerable. Therefore, by using exterior overhead doors equipped with inflatable dock cushions or folding dock covers can help prevent pest entry through gaps while these doors are in use. Additional techniques for exclusion, such as caulking cracks and crevices around these doors, may be necessary. It is especially important to clean and sanitize the area for any fallen product to prevent harborage.
- Windows that are not properly designed and fitted make it easy for flying pests to enter. They should have at minimum of 16-mesh screening and in some cases, the screen may need reinforcement at points of stress. Caulking may be necessary for small cracks and crevices found around windows.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PESTICIDE LABEL AND ITS SAFETY DATA SHEET (SDS)?
The pesticide label directions generally include the necessary considerations for safe pesticide application under most circumstances and the safety data sheet (SDS) will help inform the PMP and the customer of any potential hazards to themselves and others in the course of their work. It is necessary to have both on file and on hand because if there was an emergency spill the label will help with directions for clean up or poisoning, and the SDS will have the manufacturers emergency phone number. Our FSS, Inc. customer portal (myserviceaccount.com) and website (labels and SDS) have all the documents easy to locate in the event of an emergency or when deciding what products to choose.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO REVIEW TRAP CATCH RECORDS WEEKLY? MONTHLY? QUARTERLY? ANNUALLY? WHAT KINDS OF TRENDS ARE LIKELY TO BE DETERMINED DURING THESE TIMES?
Careful checking of the trap records on a weekly basis can provide information on possible sources of infestations and changes in population densities. It may also indicate where more traps are needed to pinpoint small infestations. Reviewing reports on a quarterly or annual basis may indicate seasonal trends that will allow you to adjust your trapping plan the following year.
In areas where infestation is suspected, traps and surrounding areas should be checked twice weekly if possible. If tolerance of food pest insects is low to zero, even one insect may be enough to start a special cleanup or intensified management program. Insect populations can grow rapidly, especially under ideal conditions (e.g., plenty of warmth and food). Thus, more frequent checking can prevent populations from getting out of hand before simple corrective measures can be instituted. During the summer and early fall, when population pressures are the greatest, more frequent checking is preferred and less-frequent checking is acceptable during the winter months or in cooler areas of a facility.
Did we forget to mention we might have a 6ft glue board to get rid of that two-legged creature of yours?
Bennett, G. W., Owens, J. M., Corrigan, R. M., & Truman, L. C. (2010). Truman's scientific guide to pest management operations. North Coast Media, LLC.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Food safety Modernization Act (FSMA). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-regulation-food-and-dietary-supplements/food-safety modernization-act-fsma.
Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). What is IPM? EPA. https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/integrated-pest-management-ipm-principles.
The Global Food Safety Initiative. MyGFSI. (2021, August 10). https://mygfsi.com/.
Surendra K Dara, The New Integrated Pest Management Paradigm for the Modern Age, Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2019, 12, https://doi.org/10.1093/jipm/pmz010