Bakers Journal

Vamoose to the vermin

September 24, 2010
By BILL melville

Whether you work in a small boutique bakery or mass produce bread
loaves purchased by major supermarkets, pests are definitely not on
your ingredient list.

Whether you work in a small boutique bakery or mass produce bread loaves purchased by major supermarkets, pests are definitely not on your ingredient list.  Perhaps your worst nightmare would be having a customer take a bite of your product, only to find it contaminated by vermin.

In an industry where perfection is demanded on a daily basis, having just a few pests in a facility can irreparably damage your reputation. Establishing and maintaining an effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help prevent pests before they become a problem. IPM focuses on proactive techniques such as sanitation (to minimize pest attractants like food and water) and facility maintenance (to stop them from getting in the building). In addition to implementing these measures, there are several pest management tools that can help protect your facility against pests without using chemical treatments.

Small pests, big problems
For the baking industry, small pests like flies and stored-product pests present a big problem. Flies harbour bacteria, and spread diseases by breeding in waste outside your facility and then landing on products or preparation surfaces inside your building.  Stored-product pests can also threaten your bottom line. They penetrate packaging and spread to surrounding goods, forcing immediate disposal of all affected products. Follow these simple steps to help prevent a pest problem.


Install insect light traps
Insect light traps, or ILTs, utilize ultraviolet light to attract flying insects to non-toxic sticky boards. The light initially draws the insects into the trap unit, and the sticky boards capture them for later analysis by your pest management provider. ILTs are an important early detection tool for identifying sources of insect activity.

Change exterior lighting
Florescent light attracts flies, and any lighting immediately around the exterior of the building should use sodium vapor bulbs instead, which are less attractive to insects.  However, florescent bulbs used for exterior lighting should be located a distance from the building to draw pests away.

Use positive airflow
Use positive airflow to prevent pests from entering through common openings, such as doors and windows. Positive airflow occurs when air is forced out of the building, rather than into it. Forcing air out of the building creates a barrier that can prevent pests from entering your facility. Work with your maintenance team to confirm you have positive airflow.

Adjust the thermostat
Lowering the temperature in your facility by just a few degrees can make the environment less appealing to stored-product pests. For example, Indian meal moths are more active at 23 C, but are less active and reproduce slower at 18 C. Storing susceptible products in cooler areas of your facility will slow down insect development, but don’t forget about the effect that temperatures may have on your finished products.

Put your foot down
Roaches are the scourge of every facility. These insects usually enter a facility by hitch-hiking on incoming shipments or, at times, they may even use small openings to enter from outside. Once inside, they will reproduce rapidly. Cockroaches are not only unsightly, but they carry many different diseases and typically reside in cracks and crevices close to a food source, making them difficult to spot until they reproduce and you have a full-blown infestation on your hands. While keeping your facility clean can be an effective tool for preventing infestations, use insect monitoring tools, such as sticky boards, as a supplemental measure.

Monitor with glue traps
Using glue traps or sticky boards (with or without pheromones or food lures) in high pest traffic areas can be an environmentally friendly technique to both manage and monitor roach populations and other crawling insect pests. Once your pest management provider is able to identify the pest and how large the population is, you can put a specific treatment in place for that issue, versus indiscriminate or routine pesticide applications.

Take the bait
These formulations are a better alternative to traditional spray treatments, as they minimize airborne chemical exposure to staff and food preparation areas. Working with your pest management professional, you can strategically place these products in the most effective, yet inconspicuous areas in your facility. 

Get birds to fly the coop
Birds target buildings for a variety of reasons, such as socializing, feeding, mating and nesting. Pest birds, including pigeons, sparrows and starlings, can carry and spread diseases. Managing these pests can be very challenging, because in some cases, birds are protected by law. In addition to consulting with your pest management provider, you can use several exclusion and trapping techniques to manage this nuisance. Prevention always plays an integral role in protecting your facility. 

Repellants discourage birds from perching on ledges and can effectively deter socializing or breeding. These repellants can be physical, such as bird spikes or tacky gels, or they can include electronic or ultrasonic devices, which can frighten pest birds away. Consult a licensed professional to determine which form of repellant to use.

Using netting around areas where birds gather can discourage them from congregating, sleeping and mating near your facility. This is done in a safe manner that forces the birds to find an alternative location. Key netting areas include HVAC systems where birds tend to build their nests, rooftops where these pests socialize in flocks, and in the rafters where the birds sleep. For protective and legal purposes, it is important to have a trained and licensed professional relocate any birds that may currently inhabit your facility.

Adding these tools to your pest management program can be a beneficial (and best of all) environmentally friendly alternative to traditional pest control methods that rely on chemical applications to control pests. Work with a licensed pest management professional to identify areas where pests may take up residence in your facility, and together you can work proactively to discourage pests before they become the decorations on your cake.

Bill Melville is Quality Assurance Director for Orkin PCO Services. Melville has 35 years of experience in the industry and is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.  For more information, e-mail or visit .

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