The top 10 pest concerns for food processing facilities

Mona Latif

Food processing facilities face a myriad of pest pressures on a daily basis. Every facility has its own unique pest issues based on its location and the products it handles and produces. That said, there are some pests that seem to plague many processing facilities. What are they?  Rentokil Steritech looked at over 90,000 services conducted in 2017 to determine the top 10 pest challenges for food processors.

Understanding risk-based pest control

In 2015 when elements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) went into effect, risk-based preventive controls became the new requirement for food manufacturing facilities. This risk-based approach requires each facility to evaluate its unique risks, identify and implement controls to reduce or eliminate the risk, verify those controls are adequate and make corrective actions to maintain the controls. All of these controls must be identified in written plans, and any work done around them must be documented.

So what does all of this have to do with pest control? Everything, really. Understanding the pest pressures your facility faces will allow you and your pest management provider to address specific areas and implement the right measures to exclude pests from the facility or control them if they do enter.

Risk-based plans should also be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are sufficient. There are many circumstances that can change a facility’s pest control needs. For example:

  • The addition of new products or ingredients, production lines, suppliers, and processes can introduce new risk.
  • New construction can also create the need for updated programs.   
  • Extreme or severe weather events (flooding, drought, hurricanes, etc.) may require temporary preventive controls be put in place.

Pest pressures faced by food processors

It can also be helpful to have an idea of what types of pest pressures are being faced by others in your industry, so that you can review your facility with a different lens to see if your facility may be open to other risks you haven’t considered.

Recently, Rentokil Steritech analyzed the results of food processing plants in 2017 to determine the top 10 pest concerns. As we approach the end of 2018 and you begin evaluating your pest management budget, this information may help you adjust your program to address high-risk pests.

    1. Rodents
      By far the most pervasive pest faced by processors, rodent pressures are increasing across the U.S. for many clients. Mouse populations are booming, and the roof rat is expanding its footprint.
    2. Night flying pests (includes moths and other nocturnal insect pests)
      Loading docks and other areas that remain open or have frequent access are a hot spot for these pests. Implementing insect light trap solutions can help reduce the likelihood that these pests get inside.
    3. House Flies
      House flies are vectors of disease that pose a real risk to food processing facilities as they can gain access through small openings and spaces. Insect light traps are one way to prevent these pests from gaining access.
    4. Small flies / gnats
      This category includes a broad range of fly pests including phorid flies, fruit flies and other small flies, as well as gnats. Anywhere there is moisture or organic debris, these pests can be an issue.
    5. Pigeons
      Birds can pose a major hazard for food contamination and human health. Your Rentokil Steritech Specialist can help you design an effective management program to reduce pigeon activity.
    6. Sparrows
      Small birds, such as sparrows, can be a problem in loading docks and on the exterior of a facility because they nest in small gaps in man-made structures (roof overhangs, etc.). From these spaces, they can also gain entry into facilities. Your Rentokil Steritech Specialist can recommend areas for exclusion to reduce your risk.
    7. Warehouse Beetle
      This stored product pest likes to infest grains and areas where dust from grain is prevalent. In processing facilities, this includes coating and sifting rooms; hammermill, elevators, and grain processing areas; and anywhere that dust settles (beams, inside electrical boxes, etc.).
    8. Indian Meal Moths
      Indian meal moths may be seen on or flying near areas where dried foods are stored, whether raw ingredients or packaged (rice, birdseed, cornmeal, chocolate, whole wheat, crackers, dog food and dried fruits). Nearly any dried product can be a source of activity.
    9. Bottle and Flesh Flies
      These two different species of flies have similar habits. They are often found in processing facilities near garbage, decaying organic material, and animal waste.
    10. Cigarette Beetle
      Similar to warehouse beetles, processing facilities may experience problems with cigarette beetles in areas where dried foods are processed and dusts are created, such as milling, coating, and sifting areas. Areas where animals, plants, and their byproducts are found can also be targets for these pests.

If you are a Rentokil Steritech customer, your pest control program was designed to address your risk areas. During your routine service, your Specialist is on the lookout for emerging pest concerns or conditions conducive to pest entry or infestation and will alert you to them in your Proof of Service Report.

If you are a not a Rentokil Steritech and would like to learn more about our pest control programs designed for food processing, contact us today.

Mona Latif
Mona Latif

Mona Latif is the Director of Product & Innovation for Rentokil North America. Mona specializes in creating and deploying processes, products and enhancements to improve the overall customer experience. When not at work, Mona is seeking new adventures, taking pictures, shopping and reading.

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