Integrated pest management in the food retail sector

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for food safety employs a combination of practices to eliminate the root cause of pest infestations, focusing on prevention measures rather than a reactive regime. IPM integrates multiple control measures based on information gathered through inspection, monitoring and reporting, tailored to the circumstances of each site (Environmental Protection Agency, 2011).

Exclusion: Design and construction

Plan the actions needed to prevent a pest infestation, including physical, cultural and chemical methods. Specify:

  • physical controls: maintenance of buildings to prevent access;
  • cultural controls: change operating procedures to prevent infestations, specify the frequency of monitoring, responsible persons, monitoring activities, reassessment and documentation of activities; and
  • sanitation controls: removal of food sources such as waste, spills and inappropriately stored food; removing harbourage;
  • chemical controls: how to eliminate pests with safe and approved pesticides suitable for use around businesses storing, preparing and displaying fresh and packaged foods and where members of the public are present;
  • an inspection regime to detect the presence of pests as early as possible, around and in buildings, in fittings, equipment, stored and displayed products and incoming supplies;
  • training of personnel;
  • document the control measures specified; these must be available for a review team and auditors/ inspectors.

Restriction: Control and maintenance

Implement the control measures that provide the most effective results and ensure safety:

  • appoint trained personnel to be responsible for each area of the control measures. This can include appointment of internal or external experts for monitoring pests;
  • assign adequate resources to implement the measures;
  • implement the control measures and inspection regime according to the plans;
  • record actions and results in accordance with standards and legislative requirements.

Destruction: Proactive response

When there is a pest outbreak a clear identification of the pest is essential to determine the most appropriate control methods and the preventive actions needed to avoid re-infestation. There are six basic questions to ask about a pest and the threats that it poses to food safety (Powitz, 2009):

  • What is the pest species?
    Different species of closely related pests have different behaviour and biology that will require tailored treatment for best results.
  • Where does the pest come from?
    Has it come in delivered goods or gained entry or been attracted into the building due to structural defects, poor maintenance, poor hygiene, decaying goods, etc?
  • What damage does it do?
    Does it pose a food safety risk to fresh, prepared or packaged goods; can it damage fittings or building structure?
  • Where are they?
    Conduct an inspection of the building and the surroundings using a qualified pest control person who will understand the pest and identify the harbourage places.
  • How many are there?
    Estimating the quantity of pest will give an indication not only of the extent of the problem but also how long they have been established on the premises.
  • Why are the pests there?
    Pests could be present due to supplier or transport problems, or environmental conditions that encourage or trigger pest infestation.

Monitoring: Ongoing evaluation

Evaluate the effectiveness of the pest control programme. This can include:

  • examining pest control operations;
  • reviewing operating procedures to reduce food sources, harbourage and contamination;
  • review preventive maintenance procedures;
  • documentation of the review;
  • recommend changes and improvements to the IPM program.
  • Implement the recommended changes to the IPM program.

Harry Wood

Harry Wood is a Technical Content Specialist at Rentokil Initial, creating long-form content across the organisation's online channels.A writer and editor for 30 years, Harry started out in an academic environment as an expert in tropical forestry and environment before moving into the IT, healthcare and medical technology industry and finally entering the world of pest and hygiene in 2015.A return to his roots writing about wood-boring insect pest, or is it boring Wood writing about insect pest?

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