5 Keys to an Effective Pest Management Program

In food processing and food production environments, effective and efficient pest control is a must. For obvious reasons, a pest infestation can put your product and your business’ reputation at risk. Moreover, pest management in the Philippines, under such circumstances is also very sensitive, because special precautions must be taken to keep pest control treatments from threatening food safety. To better control pests while respecting a food plant’s sensitive environmental needs, you need to implement an effective Pest Management Program.

1. Prevention & Suppression
“Prevention is better than cure” is the first general rule in any production system – be it in the food industry or not. Prevention can be considered as the creation of food production systems, which are inherently less likely to experience significant economic losses due to the presence of pests.

Meanwhile, suppression, understood as the reduction of the incidence of pests or of the severity of their impact, complements prevention. This principle means that the aim is not to completely eliminate pests but to prevent any single one from becoming dominant or damaging the food production system.

2. Regular & Committed Inspection
The foundation of an effective Pest Management program is a schedule of regular inspections. For food processors and producers, weekly inspections are very common, while some plants and factories inspect even more frequently. These routine inspections should focus on areas where pests are most likely to appear – receiving docks, storage areas, employee break rooms, sites of recent ingredient spills, etc. You should also identify any potential entry points, food and water sources, or harborage zones that might encourage pest problems.

3. Identification and Specific Tactics
Different pests have different behaviors. By identifying the problematic species, pests can be eliminated more efficiently and with the least risk of harm to other organisms. Professional pest management always starts with the correct identification of the pest in question. Make sure your pest control provider undergoes rigorous training in pest identification and behavior.

4. Analysis & Treatment Options
Pest Management experts and consultants stress the use of non-chemical control methods, such as exclusion or trapping, before resorting to chemical options. When other control methods have failed or are inappropriate for the situation, chemicals may be used in least volatile formulations, in targeted areas to treat the specific pest.

In other words, you must use the right treatments in the right places, and only as much as you need to get the job done. Often, the “right treatment” will consist of a combination of responses, from chemical treatments to baiting to trapping.

However, by focusing on non-chemical options first, you can ensure that your pest management program is effectively eliminating pests with the least risk to your food safety program, non-target organisms and the environment. What’s more is that your company will certainly see higher pest control scores come audit time.

5. Monitoring & Documentation
Since pest management programs are ongoing processes, constantly monitoring your facility for pest activity and facility and operational changes can protect against infestation and help eliminate existing ones. Since your pest management provider most likely visits your facility on a bi-weekly or weekly basis, your staff needs to be the daily eyes and ears of the pest management program.
Employees should also be aware of sanitation issues that affect the program. They should report any signs of pest activity. You don’t want to lose a day when it comes to reacting to an actual pest presence.

Come audit time, you will come to rely on one essential: documentation. Up-to-date pest control documentation is one of the first signs to an auditor that your facility takes pest control seriously. Important documents include a scope of service, pest activity reports, service reports, corrective action reports, trap layout maps, lists of approved pesticides, pesticide usage reports and applicator licenses.

To summarize, effective pest management programs can be successful for a simple reason: they recognize that pest management is a process, not a one-time event. It is an ongoing cycle that must adapt according to circumstances at hand.

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