Officials Say Fear Of Pests Should Not Rule Over Reality

It is often pointed out how very specific the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors are when checking for pest control in food processing facilities. Yet many people are still paranoid about whether of not their inspections are enough to keep the public safe.

Inspectors get so into detail with their reports, however, that they often leave facilities with the exact number of mouse droppings they found. So where does the worry come from?

For many, the pests they search for are the ones that carry foodborne pathogens or may result in insect eggs, rodent hair, or larva skin getting into foods. The science of pest control breaks down what a pest is even further. There are numerous qualities that describe a pest, and one of those is their willingness to go into buildings.

In other words, “There are pests that will enter structures in search of warmth for the winter,” says Pat Hottel, an entomologist and technical director at McCloud Services. McCloud provides pest control in Illinois.

“There are large numbers of insects that spend the winter as adults inside structures and can do so in large numbers,” Hottel says. “Examples include cluster flies, brown marmorated stink bugs, multicolored Asian lady beetles and boxelder bugs. Boxelder bugs have been particularly active these last few weeks in Illinois, which is a little late in the season, but we’ve had unusually warm weather.”

Pest control companies are now in the midst of explaining the new requirements set forth by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which affects companies producing food for both humans and animals.

“Under FSMA,” Hottel notes, “there is a strong emphasis for prevention. So exclusion of pests becomes even more critical. There are requirements under the revised cGMP’s (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) that state a pest cannot be found anywhere in the plant. That language is broader than what was found in the previous cGMP document. Increased pest management efforts will be needed.”

The new rules are also putting more emphasis on maintenance for building owners, she notes, and pest control works best when it is done through a partnership. A pest management firm should work with a client on preventative measures in addition to helping in any emergency situations.

When building and company owners do not put an emphasis on pest control, they can get in trouble with the FDA, state and local regulators, and may even end up being shut down depending on the severity of the issue. Failure to maintain clean areas and prevent pest infestations has cost the food industry millions of dollars each year. In many cases, it has also done irreparable damage to businesses and brands.

Pest control can be difficult for many businesses. Mice and rats gain access through open doors, ill-fitting doors or windows, and small crevices. From there, they can spread throughout a building using electrical lines, piping, or HVAC ducts. This makes preventative measures and long-term control options the best bet for business owners.

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