Business and Operations
An Expert’s Recipe for Keeping Pests Away
November 5, 2007 By Zia Siddiqi PhD B.C.E. Director of Quality Systems Orkin Canada
The seven steps of integrated pest management will keep your food and facility safe.
While a number of ingredients are often required for a tasty treat, one ingredient sure to ruin your product is a pest. Pests can carry harmful pathogens that threaten food safety, cause structural damage to your facility, and result in score deductions on third-party audits. An ongoing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is the best, long-term solution to keep pests out of your bakery and your products.
An environmentally responsible approach to pest management, IPM establishes continuous prevention methods, rather than treating pests on a case-by-case basis. IPM programs address the key reason pests infest bakeries – access to food, water and shelter – and use multiple approaches to impede their access to these elements. Moreover, IPM stresses non-chemical options to manage pests, and only uses chemical treatments as a last resort, and in the least volatile formulations.
The Basics of IPM
IPM is an ongoing cycle of seven steps. Think of each step as part of the prize-winning recipe that keeps pests out – of food, facility and from impacting bottom-line profits.
Inspection: The first step is to identify the areas of your bakery that attract pests. Inspect your facility regularly, both outside and inside, for potential entry points where pests can sneak in and for activity zones, including employee break rooms or food storage areas, that can provide food and water sources for pests’ survival. Pay special attention to changes that might occur within your facility, such as new shipments or alterations to entrances, which can introduce new pests and disrupt your IPM routine.
Preventive Action: After you pinpoint entry points and areas conducive to infestation, take steps to prevent pests from taking advantage. Use sanitation, and general housekeeping and maintenance practices, such as sealing entry points and installing window screens, to block out pests. Other common preventive methods include: organic cleaners, fly lights and sticky traps. Make sure your employees understand their roles in your bakery’s efforts.
Identification: Even with your best efforts, pests may still find a way into your facility. If you do spot a pest, work with your pest management professional to accurately identify it. The success of treatment options hinges on their use in targeting a specific species, so select a pest management professional well trained in pest biology and behaviour.
Analysis: Once the pest is identified, determine why the pest is there. Are ingredients stored improperly – attracting pests to a food source? Is there a hole in the door, allowing pests to enter freely? Is vegetation outside the building providing pests shelter? Is it only one pest, or an infestation of many? The results of your analysis will help determine the appropriate treatment.
Treatment: Once you have the necessary information, a treatment can be selected. The good news is: you’ve got options. Consider any non-chemical techniques first. For example, if poorly stored ingredients help feed the pests, revise your storage area, and rotate your stock frequently. If landscaping is the problem, prune any vegetation close to the bakery that might be providing harborage. Mechanical or sticky traps, and vacuuming, can also aid in physical removal of pests.
Once all non-chemical options have been exhausted, chemical treatments can be considered, but only when used to manage targeted pests in specific areas, and in the least volatile dosage available.
Monitoring: IPM is unique in that it doesn’t end after treatment. Continue to monitor your facility for pests, paying special attention to the areas where you have had problems in the past. Glue boards and pheromone traps will be particularly useful for monitoring crawling and flying pests. Also, ask your employees to get involved in the monitoring efforts. Request that employees immediately report signs of pest activity in a central location for your pest management professional to review on each service visit.
Documentation: Detailed documentation is key for determining the success of your program. Keep all pest management documents, including service reports, pest trend logs and pesticide usage logs, in a central location. Review the documentation regularly to make sure it is accurate and up to date. Auditors will ask to see complete records of your pest management efforts during their inspections.
When it comes to your IPM program, employees are your secret weapon. Many respectable pest management providers offer on-site IPM training to teach your employees ways they can assist with your bakery’s programs. With teamwork, and a good IPM program, pests will stay away from your bakery and out of your ingredients.
A Board Certified Entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
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