In the Environment of Food Processing, Quality Pest Control is a must. Infestation can harm the product and your business reputation because no one wants to find something in the product that doesn't fit the label.

Except pest management in environments like this is also very sensitive. Special agreements must be taken to be approved so that controlling pests does guarantee food safety. To control pests better while meeting sensitive plant environmental needs, you need to apply the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The IPM program works for simple reasons. They realize that pest management is a process, not a one-time event, and that only relying on chemical control when so many other tools are available is never the best solution. By overcoming the underlying causes of pest attacks - access to food, water and shelter - IPM can prevent attacks before pesticides are considered. In practice, IPM is a continuous cycle of seven important steps:

Step 1: Inspection

The foundation of an effective IPM program is the schedule of regular inspections. For food processors, weekly inspections are common, and some factories carry out more frequent inspections. This routine inspection should focus on areas where pests are likely to emerge - receive docks, storage areas, employee restrooms, recent location of material spills, etc. - and identify potential entry points, food and water sources, or protection zones that might encourage pest problems.

Step 2: Preventive Measures

When routine inspections reveal vulnerabilities in your pest management program, take steps to overcome them before they cause real problems. One of the most effective prevention measures is an exception, eg, carrying out structural maintenance to cover potential entry points revealed during inspections. By physically removing pests, you can reduce the need for chemical control. Likewise, sanitation and households will eliminate potential food and water sources, thereby reducing pest pressure.

Step 3: Identification

Different pests have different behaviors. By identifying problem species, pests can be removed more efficiently and at the least risk of endangering other organisms. The management of professional pests always starts with the identification of the correct pests. Make sure your pest control provider undergoes rigorous training in pest identification and behavior.

Step 4: Analysis

After you identify the pest correctly, you need to find out why the pest is in your facility. Are there food debris or moisture accumulation that might attract it? What about smell? How do pests enter - maybe through the floor or wall? Is it possible for incoming shipments to be infested? The answers to these questions will lead to the best choice of control techniques.

Step 5: Treatment Selection

The IPM emphasizes the use of non-chemical control methods, such as exclusion or entrapment, before chemical options. When other control methods fail or are not suitable for this situation, chemicals can be used in the least volatile formulations in the target area to treat certain pests. In other words, use the right care in the right place, and only as much as you need to get the job done. Often, "proper treatment" will consist of a combination of responses, from chemical treatments to bait to traps. But by focusing on non-chemical options first, you can ensure that your pest management program effectively removes the least risk pests from your food safety program, non-target organisms and the environment. You will also see a higher pest control score at the time of the audit.

Step 6: Monitoring

Because pest management is an ongoing process, constantly monitoring your facilities for pest and facility activities and operational changes can protect against attacks and help eliminate existing ones. Because your pest management professional is likely to visit your facility every two weeks or every week, your staff must be the daily eyes and ears of the IPM program. Employees must be aware of sanitation problems that affect the program and must report signs of pest activity. You don't want to lose a day when you have to react to the presence of real pests.

Step 7: Documentation

Let's face it, visiting food safety auditors can make or break your business. Because pest control can reach up to 20 percent of your total score, it is very important that your IPM program is ready to be exhibited when the audit comes. The latest documentation of pest control is one of the first signs for the auditor that your facility takes pest control seriously. Important documents include the scope of services, reports on pest activity, service reports, corrective action reports, trap layout maps, approved list of pesticides, reports on pesticide use, and applicator licenses.

To ensure that your IPM program 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 for a superior IPM program. The benefits are fewer headaches, safer products and better audit scores.