Despite the best preventive measures, it is inevitable that a mouse or rat will make its way into the food facility at some point, thus necessitating control practices. In most cases, this control was said to be provided by an outsourced pest control operator (PCO) for both general pest control (62%) and rodent control (69%) services (Table 10).
Additionally, while used to differing extents, the types of control were similar for both exterior and interior control (Table 11):
• Rodenticide in tamper-resistant bait stations. These can be beneficial outdoors and where allowed indoors, not only to control rodents with rodenticide, but to monitor for rodent presence and location. This then enables the establishment of proper controls.
• Structural modifications/exclusion. By fixing any gaps or holes, screening vents, etc., through which rodents can enter from the outside or scurry through a building, the rodent movement can be restricted and, again, better controlled.
• Sticky or snap traps. Like bait stations, traps can enable both capture of rodents and monitoring of their activity. They are, however, much more visible, so care must be taken with placement.
• Repellents. Like structural modifications, keeping rodents away through the use of repellents helps to prevent rats and mice from entering or freely moving about a facility.
Over the last half decade, new technologies have been introduced for rodent control, with two of these being the most predominant: reproductive controls and electronic rodent monitoring (ERM). While about half of the survey respondents were at least somewhat familiar with and interested in each of these, few had implemented either. (Table 12)
The fact that the other half of the respondents were either not familiar with or not interested in either technology would account for some of this. But it’s also likely that a reason for not implementing reproductive control was similar to 64% of respondents reason for not implementing ERM: “It’s not necessary; our current rodent control measures are sufficient.”
The lower response rate may also mean ongoing education of customers that these two options exist may be worthwhile.
Whether food facilities controlled rodents with standard methods, such as bait stations, traps, repellents and exclusion, or implemented newer technologies, such as reproductive controls and ERM, the fact that 64% of respondents felt their current programs to be sufficient without the addition of a technological component is a fairly positive sign. As is the decrease in rodent sightings in food facilities in the years of the QA/Senestech surveys (from 95% in 2017 to 52% in 2020, Table 2, page 3.)
With rodent management systems continuing to evolve to enhance the tried-and-true control measures being used by food facilities (Table 10), there are many options and little reason to tolerate rodents and the damage, disease, contamination, inspection/audit citations and customer concern that result from their rapid reproduction.