What You Need to Know About Pest Control

Features - Pest Control

Following are the answers to the quiz questions on page 22. Each includes explanation of the correct answer and reference to QA articles for more information. All the articles can be found at http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/Magazine, by selecting the month and year listed with the article title.

June 11, 2015

1. What is the most important thing to understand about a pest for effective control?

c. Its biology and behavior. Today’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a science-based program that relies on the understanding of a pest’s biology and behavior, with the expectation that professionals will use many tools to manage a pest issue. Pests have varying food preferences and habitats; differing life cycles, feeding stages, and adult lifespans; and dissimilar temperature thresholds and abilities for flight and package penetration. All are important in selecting the best method of control, and in reducing conducive conditions by which the insects live and breed. As with many aspects of food safety, most important for prevention and control is understanding the risk: the pests that are most likely to infest your product and facility, the most destructive life stages and means of entry, and the most effective methods of prevention and control.

[IPM in Food Plants (Nov/Dec 2014) and Stored Product Pest Control/Knowing the Pest is Half the Battle (Nov/Dec 2013)]

2. What is the primary source of German cockroaches in a food plant?

a. Hitchhiking in on employees or their belongings. Although it may come as a surprise to those who focus their pest management efforts on the dock and incoming goods, the vast majority German cockroaches that are found in food plants can be traced back to employees and their belongings. While supplies and ingredient deliveries are a risk and are the secondary cause of German cockroach infestations, the first line of defense needs to be at employee locker rooms, break rooms, and any other areas in which belongings are brought or stored. However, other areas should not be neglected, rather all areas should be inspected for and cleared of cockroach attractants, such as leaky pipes in the restroom, unsanitary trash or recycling bins and areas, and general clutter and debris. Additionally, because the secondary entry point is with incoming goods, it is critical to check all deliveries and monitor and maintain dock and warehouse areas.

[The Rise and Fall of German Cockroaches — Employees Bring Resurgence (Mar/Apr 2013)]

3. Which pest most frequently causes food facility shutdown by a government agency?

b. Rodents. A rodent infestation can easily result in company disgrace, loss of business, termination of blamed employees as well as managers, huge penalties, and even going out of business. To prevent these, it is critically important for every food manufacturer to have a rodent program that not only controls, but prevents rodents—particularly with FSMA’s new key focus on preventive controls. At the same time, however, EPA has enacted a number of rodenticide risk mitigation measures, such as limiting rodenticide placement around buildings, which have created some challenges in rodent management—and make preventive controls even more critical. Preventive practices should include: making the property inhospitable to rodents; limiting or eliminating rodent access through rodenticides, snap traps, or other equipment or practices on the property; inspecting for and filling structural gaps and holes; spot-checking deliveries for evidence of rodent presence; tracking and trending rodent incursion to help narrow down potential entry points and methods and enable effective corrective action.

[Limiting and Eliminating Rodent Presence and Access (Sept/Oct 2013)]

4. Why are occasional invaders, such as centipedes and ground beetles that come in from the outdoors, of concern even if they are not seen in the food processing area?

c. They are a sign that there is an entry point through which other pests may enter. Occasional invaders are pests, primarily insects, that live outdoors but will venture into structures in search of food, water, or shelter. They are not normally considered to be structural pests because they do not breed indoors. But any pest that gets into a facility demonstrates a lack of structural integrity or a cultural issue—such as employees propping doors open. Either way, the opening means that other pests can get in as well. Thus, occasional invaders are a warning signal that if they can get into your building, so, too, can higher-risk pests. And, no matter what the pest is, if it gets into the processing area or into the product itself, it will be considered a contaminant or adulterant. 

[Occasional Invaders: The Canary in the Coal Mine (Jul/Aug 2014)]

5. What is the optimum height at which to place an insect light trap to intercept flies?

c. From two to five feet above the floor. ILTs can help provide control of a number of flying insects that can carry and spread bacteria and disease. To intercept flies before they can reach a food area, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends that ILTs be placed two to five feet from the floor. FDA GMPs state that UV light traps can be used in certain areas, as long as they are designed and placed to prevent further contamination from the tray that collects the insect remains. Best practice is to place ILTs on inside walls next to exterior doorways or loading-dock doors (making sure the ILT lights do not attract flying insects from outside) and on outside walls of production areas about five feet from doors. Don’t overlook areas where items are brought inside the facility—such as cafeterias, break rooms, and office areas. ILTs also can be beneficial in monitoring and controlling flying insects in areas used to receive and store raw materials.

[Flying Insect Control with ILTs (Mar/Apr 2012)]

6. What should you be able to expect from your pest control provider?

b. Knowledge of your plant equipment, process flow, and practices. Whether your pest management technician is in-house or contracted, he or she must be knowledgeable about your prerequisite programs or GMPs, approved product lists, and sanitation programs. The technician also should be aware of new pest control products and application techniques; be licensed and/or certified as required by your state; know of and understand all applicable local, state, and federal regulations (including those in FSMA); and help keep the facility aligned with pest-related audit requirements.

In short—your in-house or contracted pest management technician should be an integral part of your sanitation team, seeking to prevent pest infestations and promptly taking action if any pest issue should arise.

[Ten Commandments for Quality Pest Management (Mar/Apr 2008)]

7. In the new FSMA rules, due to be issued this fall, pest control is considered a preventive control, so must be included in the written Food Safety Plan.

a. True. With the implementation of FSMA (as proposed), food facilities will be required to implement a written preventive controls plan. This involves: evaluating the hazards that could affect food safety; specifying the preventive steps, or controls, to be put in place to minimize or prevent the hazards; specifying how the facility will monitor these controls to ensure they are working; maintaining routine records of the monitoring; and specifying what actions the facility will take to correct problems that arise. With pests considered to be hazards and pest control listed as a subpart of sanitary operations, interpretation of the law signifies that preventive pest controls will need to be a part of the written food safety plan.

[www.FDA.gov, Preventive Standards]

8. Effective pest-prevention practices can make pesticide application unnecessary.

a. True. If you implement an effective pest prevention program, the opportunity for pests to come into the protected environment is greatly reduced. So, with the key word being “effective,” once you’ve taken away the opportunity, there should be little reason for pesticide application. The difference between control and prevention of pests is similar to that of any potential food contaminant. Control means there is a problem and a solution needs to be found to fix it, while prevention means you are taking steps to keep a problem from happening.

[10 Proactive Steps to Prevent Pests (Jan/Feb 2012)]

9. By hiring a pest control service provider, you relieve yourself of any responsibility for pest control.

b. False. Pest management needs to be a partnership between the technician and the plant. That said, new food safety standards and FSMA have clearly stated that the food facility is ultimately responsible for an effective pest management program. Even when pest management services are outsourced, it is the legal obligation of the facility’s management to ensure the program effectively prevents food adulteration. To fulfill this responsibility and implement preventive controls, plant personnel and the pest control provider need to work together to cultivate a proactive program. Each should have their own specific roles and responsibilities that come together to create a collaborative relationship. While contracting with a third party can transfer the bulk of pest management responsibilities from internal personnel to an outside professional, it does not relieve the plant of responsibility. In fact, it is the development of the strong partnership that enables accomplishment of best practices for a pest-free environment.

[Best Practices in Pest Management (Jan/Feb 2008) and Insect Management (Book Review) (Jan/Feb 2007)]


The author is Editor of QA magazine. She can be reached at llupo@gie.net.