By Dr. Pari Pachamuthu, B.C.E
Summer is the fun time of year for people who love outdoor activities, be it a backyard barbeque or camping with family and friends, hiking with a best friend, or enjoying ice cream while strolling through their favorite part of town. Insects and many other pests are not any different than us when it comes to summer; they love the warm weather and will come out of the woodwork for a few months of fun. Their fun time means great challenges for people in the food industry, as many pests will start migrating to their favorite food processing facility. How can you prepare your facility to keep them at bay? Here are five tips that can help you:
1) Exterior Landscape Maintenance:
Maintaining exterior lawn/landscaped areas, keeping vegetation away from the building, and eliminating excess moisture next to the building will protect your facility from occasional invaders like ground beetle, cricket, earwig, springtail, millipede/centipede by eliminating possible harborage and breeding sites. It is common to find these pests inside interior rodent traps flanking your dock or exit doors.
2) Exterior Sanitation:
Cleaning up spillages around your receiving area, under the dumpster, and exterior break area, keeping exterior trash containers closed, and properly discarding food in the exterior break area will reduce the odor that can attract rodents, birds, wildlife, and large flies. The practice will also eliminate any food availability and breeding site for these pests around your facility.
3) Pest Prevention:
Check around the dock door, windows, screens/vents around the building, and broken or missing screens/vents on the roof to prevent the entry of birds and flying insects like blow flies, house flies, Indian meal moth, and warehouse beetle during your March/April self-inspection. This will also eliminate rodent entry points that are greater than 6 mm.
4) Incoming Shipments
Be more diligent and thorough when unloading or shipping in the summertime. A trailer or containers with beverages, fruits, or fermenting products with any spilled or damaged products during the transit across the country is sufficient for some pests like fruit flies to infest the container since they only require 8-10 days to complete their life cycle at 85°F. Any opening or hole in food containers will also attract and harbor flies, occasional invader pests, and rodents during transit. A rodent or stored product pest can easily hitchhike on the shipping vehicle if it stops at any place during transit. Be on the lookout for signs of live pest activity during the unloading process.
5) Personal Practice:Pests like German cockroaches, insects, and stored product pests can be brought into the facility with personal belongings. Introduction of stored product pests will be usually through grain-based products that are older than 3 months. If these pests find a residence in the facility, they will multiply quickly to an infestation level in the summertime. Within 3 ½ to 4 months after its introduction, one gravid German Cockroach can lead to 30 to 40 adult cockroaches in the facility. Be on the lookout for pest activity in breakrooms, lockers, waste management areas, and receiving offices, which are key areas where they can first enter your facility.
It is never too late to start with your facility’s preparations to deal with the summer pests. If you haven’t completed your self-inspection yet, this will be a good time to consider getting started. All your findings may help you prevent some of the issues previously described.
Other resources that will help you enhance your knowledge regarding pest management and food safety: