What is one thing we have in common with pests? Well...it’s food! Yes, even pests need to eat. With pests naturally attracted to food, food facilities around the world are particularly vulnerable to infestations. Pests not only pose a number of threats to food processing, manufacturing, storing, packaging, and distribution facilities, but they also literally eat away your profits. The type of pests a food manufacturing plant deals with depends on many factors. Local climate and environment also play a big part. In this article, we look at the top pests that are likely lurking and most commonly found in food manufacturing plants in India.
India, a part of the continent of Asia, has an extremely diverse geography. It is also the seventh largest country in the world, equal to about one-third the size of the United States. Its proximity to Southeast Asia also means that most parts of the country experience a tropical climate, which is a mixture of wet and dry weather. Due to its climate, certain pests can thrive very well in food manufacturing plants in India. Identifying the most common pests is your first step towards proper management in your facility to keep them away.
All pest activity close to the food that is being processed makes the risks significant, including:
- Spreading food-borne disease rapidly
- Contaminating your food product and manufacturing surfaces and areas with pathogens
- Damaging a food manufacturer’s brand and reputation
- Affecting your bottom line.
What are the top pests that are the most attracted to food manufacturing plants in India?
There are about 30 cockroach species. The German Cockroach, in particular, is one cockroach species that should be on your radar if you work in a food manufacturing plant in India.
German cockroaches prefer moist areas and can reach food manufacturing plants through personal belongings or incoming supplies via your plant’s supply-chain process. Once this pest finds residence in your plant, they will multiply very quickly to infestation levels, especially during the summer and in tropical climates. The female can live for about nine months and produce 140 young, spreading her population rapidly throughout your facility. Cockroaches are also nocturnal in nature, preferring to hide in dark crevices or corners. This means, even seeing just one cockroach can mean there is an infestation.
Just imagine how flies are attracted to a food manufacturing plant. They could “hitchhike” on foodstuffs brought into your facility, but they can also come in from the outdoors just being attracted to and following food smells.
Houseflies thrive in warm climate conditions and take no more than 10 days to grow from a fertilized egg to an adult fly. India’s tropical climate makes it optimal for this pest to reproduce throughout the year. And though this pest may be tiny, they can have a huge impact on your food products.
Flies will feed, breed and live in contaminated areas, then fly and land on top of food surfaces, transporting pathogens and increasing the risk of foodborne illness in humans. Don’t let this little fly make a big difference to your bottom line.
Both rats and mice thrive in India. These pests are also attracted to the smells produced by a food manufacturing plant. Once they are outside the facility, they can gain access to the interior of the building through small exterior openings. Inside the plant, they have access to food and water and can reproduce quickly under these conditions.
These pests carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and scurry throughout their territory in the plant leaving droppings and urine wherever they go. They are more active during the night, so it is important to look for signs of their presence such as droppings, gnawed materials, and odors left by the rodents.
To develop an effective pest management program, you need to understand and assess four key elements, regardless of the pest type and plant condition:
- Pest data and trends
- Common pests unique to your industry
- Your pest control program details
- Your own facility
Once you grasp these elements fully, you are one big step closer to keeping the pests at bay!
For a more proactive approach to pest prevention and control, consider implementing an Integrated Pest Management Program. It focuses on a long-term strategy for pest prevention through a combination of techniques, such as:
- Regulatory impact of pest management
- Identification of common pests and their biology
- Recognition of pest activity around and inside the facility
- Use of pest control strategies including but not limited to exclusion and removing food, water, and harborage sources.
It is never too late to start preparing to handle common pest sightings in your plant. If you have not yet completed your self-inspection, now is the right time to start. And remember, even if you work with an outside pest control expert, it is still your responsibility to ensure that the food produced in your facility is safe.