As temperatures increase during the spring months, so too does pest activity. With an abundance of food, water, humidity and places to hide, food processing facilities provide ideal conditions for various pest populations to thrive, making them extremely susceptible to infestations this time of year. Now is the perfect time for facility managers to engage in proactive pest prevention efforts to ensure not only the safety of their employees but quality of their products as well.
To safeguard your facility against an infestation this spring, it’s important to identify the areas that are known to attract pests. Rodents, cockroaches, flies and stored product pests are known to invade food processing facilities and are often found in the following areas:
Employee Breakrooms: Crumbs, spills or food left unsecured in employee break rooms are an open invitation for hungry pests as these areas offer an ample supply of the resources needed for survival.
Facility Bathrooms: Cockroaches and rodents are often found in bathrooms because of the moisture these areas provide.
Storage Areas: Product storage areas are the ideal place for pests to hide in dark corners and clutter. Rodents are also known to chew through cardboard boxes left unattended for long periods of time to access food and nesting materials.
Food Processing Machinery: Food products left on machinery can attract a variety of pests. Excess moisture build-up around equipment is also attractive to rodents and cockroaches alike.
Trash Receptacles: Garbage cans and dumpsters are ideal hotspots for pests. If these areas are not secured properly, they will enter them in droves in search for food and nesting materials.
Pest infestations in any of these areas are not only a nuisance but can also pose serious health threats. Rodents and cockroaches, for instance, can contaminate food with their droppings, spreading a multitude of diseases, including E. coli and Salmonella. The NPMA recommends managers add these steps to their maintenance checklists in order to protect their facilities from pests:
- Ensure employee kitchens and eating areas are clean by wiping down counter tops and sweeping floors to remove crumbs and residue from spills.
- Vacuum and clean all areas regularly, including offices, hallways, lobbies and public bathrooms.
- Routinely check under sinks and machinery for areas of moisture and repair any leaky pipes or clogged drains.
- Store all food products in sealed containers and organize empty boxes to prevent harborage areas.
- Keep trash in sealed containers inside the building and remove from the facility regularly. Ensure dumpsters are far away from any building entry points.
- Inspect the exterior of the building to ensure there are no entry points. Pay close attention to areas where pipes and utilities enter the building and seal any gaps or cracks in the foundation.
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors to seal the gap between the floor and the door where pests can enter.
- Remove debris from gutters and direct water away from the building through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Ensure the grounds surrounding the facility are properly maintained, as overgrown vegetation can attract pests to the property.
The most important step in ensuring your facility is protected from potential invaders is partnering with a licensed pest control company to perform regular inspections and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) plan — a holistic and customized approach to pest control that is comprised of inspection, identification and treatment to help ensure commercial facilities are clean, compliant and pest-free. By enlisting the help of a professional, you can rest assured knowing your facility is well-protected from pests year-round, allowing you to instead focus your time on delivering quality products safely and efficiently.