Edited by Jeremy Russell
By Steve Sayer, Alpha Meat
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta say that food and beverage contamination can occur anywhere or anytime along the food-processing continuum. Studies have shown that the same pathogens detected in meats can also be found on common everyday pests. The term “pests” for the sake of this report includes cats, dogs, and other feral animals including insects, reptiles, and birds.
One of the significant areas for maintaining sound food-manufacturing practices, but traditionally placed low on companies’ totem poles is pest control. This despite the fact that pest control is included in Part 416.2 of the Sanitation Performance Standard regulations. However, even the harmless looking but onerous housefly and its many progeny, is capable of wreaking havoc. The presence of a fly can halt production activities and surely power up anyone’s SSOP and pathogen reduction – HACCP Systems. Proactive daily pest control safeguards performed by plant personnel and supported by plant management would create the best odds of avoiding a plant shutdown or an agonizing Class 1, 2 or 3 product recall.
All food and beverage plants create generous amounts of pest attractants such as heat, moisture, light, food, shelter, olfactory stimulants and sundry forms of offal. Moreover each plant, depending on its geographic location, has an assortment of their own unique pests that they must constantly battle.
The main objective of any establishment’s pest control program is to prevent the entrance of pests, or failing that, to remove unwanted pests from buildings and when applicable their surrounding areas. The most competent and consistent pest control program should procure a proactive format analogous to the seven principles of HACCP. A highly proactive and preventive pest control program would require daily documentation and verification procedures culminating with the desired results, i.e. no pests.
Many already established GMPs originally targeting personal sanitation and SSOPs can be integrated into a pest control program. Foot dips, hand dips, good housekeeping practices, and proactive building maintenance protocols would be a good start. Numerous USDA-inspected facilities hire venerable state-licensed pest control companies to help deliver “pest control order.” A written report of the pest control investigation is commonly presented to plant management with copies forwarded to the plant’s USDA Inspector-In-Charge (IIC). Though professional pest control companies serve an important role, it is important to follow up yourself to insure proper pest control is really being achieved.
Like HACCP Systems, a pest control program is only as effective as the employees assigned to it. Written fact sheets and training on how to monitor bait traps should be patiently taught and documented. Any company’s customized pest control program is not expected to completely eradicate pests. That’s biologically impossible. However, companies can successfully manage and control pests at acceptable levels just like they eschew virulent pathogens from their products (see the attached box for suggestions).
Once a quarter make a concerted effort to review and cross-pollinate all germane GMPs directly into your ever-fluctuating pest control program. Become proactive with the prudent advice of your qualified pest control company. Actively share with them the responsibility and accountability of your pest control goals.
· Hire a state-licensed pest control company to supplement and guide your company’s internal pest control program. Give a copy of the report generated after the professional inspection to your FSIS Inspector-In-Charge (IIC). Keep reports filed in chronological order for reference and to document your plants efforts.
· Use highly visible, numbered signs to designate locations of non-toxic glue boards/strips for both air and terrain-invading pests, as well as locations of tamper proof, small aperture “one-way rodent houses.”
· Place pest control measures strategically in non-production interior areas and near entrances and exits.
· Use diagrams to indicate at what locations the glue boards/strips and rodent housings are strategically placed. Both the glue traps and rodent housings are checked for any “pest activities” and duly marked off every production day without fail. Both (interior and exterior) maps should be dated, signed off and filed in chronological order.
· Perform daily interior and exterior water wash downs by all entrances and exits including dock openings.
· Use mandatory foot dips at all entrances to sanitize the footwear of both employees and visitors.
· Cease any antediluvian crack and crevice treatment involving any residual spraying both in the interior and exterior areas of the plant. Only exterior non-residual spraying should be performed and then only after securing prior IIC approval.
· Implement and document monthly inspections of the facilities building infrastructure by maintenance personnel for any new or old crevice openings where both vertebrate and invertebrate pests can gain unwanted entrance into the establishment’s critical interior areas should be carried out.
· Implement both monthly and “unscheduled locker inspections” to help safeguard that food, beverages and other pest attractant air-borne molecules are not being stored in employee’s lockers.
· Situate all trash storage containers, recycling compactors, etc., away from buildings while storing them always “down wind.” This will help greatly in misdirecting the exceptional olfactory senses of unwanted pests.