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Best Practices for Identifying Failures in Pest Control

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Best Practices for Identifying Failures in Pest Control

The causes of failures in pest control are very similar in different types of food facilities. Here are some best practices to implement for effective control of pests.

Proofing is often found to be insufficient or has failed due to normal wear. Entry doors and overhead doors in receiving-shipping areas are ineffectively proofed against most pests. Many doors are not adequately sealed at the time of installation or have worn-down seals, exposing large gaps allowing entry of insects and rodents. Other gaps are easily visible by sunlight shining into the facility through crevices or around pipes.

UV light traps are frequently inadequate to capture flying pests. Light traps should not be the electric-heater type that ejects pests up to 20 feet. They should be the glue type that holds pests without ejection onto food surfaces below. In addition, most traps are improperly sited. They should not be placed directly above food preparation areas. They should be placed away from food areas to intercept pests at facility entrance points, shipping/receiving doors and general corridors. Keep traps 2 to 3 meters away from the entry points themselves, so pests are not attracted to the entries at night. Many traps are also positioned too high. Installation at a height of 7 to 8 feet is recommended. The ultimate goal is that pests should be caught well before they reach sensitive food areas.

Sticky monitoring traps are missing inside many food facilities. These traps are essential for detecting the presence of crawling pests. They indicate the precise location and source of pests as they enter and identify pest type for effective control. No treatment is required for one or two past captures. However, continue monitoring often to ensure no other pests have arrived. If more pests are caught in the same trap or adjacent traps, the pest control contractor should be contacted for immediate source tracking and control. Note that many pest control methods are non-chemical. Good pest monitoring allows you to focus your pest control efforts.

Rodent traps are required outside the facility at intervals of 15 to 30 meters along walls and both sides of shipping/receiving doors. Outdoor traps with poison bait must be locked and labeled. Inside traps should be sticky snap traps without poison. Traps should be labeled and indicate the last inspection date. Keep indoor traps clean and service outdoor traps regularly.

Plastic strip barriers are often not maintained. After a few years in place, the plastic strips get worn and dirty, and pieces start to break off. Damaged barriers no longer prevent the entry of pests. Replace damaged pest control equipment to maintain protection.

De-boxing areas are not being used effectively. Many cardboard boxes are frequently found in food processing areas, potentially transporting pests directly into high-risk areas. Wooden pallets carrying raw ingredients into high-risk food areas are often soiled and are breeding sites for insects and rodents.

Waste management is too slow in many facilities, so moist or liquid food product is left out for 6 to 12 hours before disposal, creating odors that attract pests into the area and facility. Drains become coated with waste, eventually developing slime layers that support the growth of drain flies and humpbacked flies, which are common and serious pests.

Staff practices may not support the pest control program in many food plants. Oversights can include leaving receiving doors open, tying back plastic strips on doors allowing entry by flies, not removing waste promptly, and not taking the time to report and log pest sightings.

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