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Pest control – creating peace of mind

29 August 2016

Peter Davison, who helped draft the new European quality standard for pest management services, explains what the changes mean for the food industry. 

For a number of years changes have been afoot across the pest control industry - in part due to legal requirements to minimise the environmental impact of pesticide use, enhanced fears of bio-terrorism and changing client needs. One thing is clear, the traditional image of a pest control technician, casually walking through a high risk plant laying toxic baits, is most definitely a thing of the past. The introduction of a European quality standard for pest management services, late in 2015, underlined an increasing contribution from the industry to managing public health.

Setting the benchmark 
For many years the pest control industry in the UK and Ireland has benefited from active trade organisations such as the British (BCPA) and Irish Pest Control Association (IPCA). Both have strict entry requirements, including  a need for professional qualifications, CPD programmes, and a periodic audit of systems. They also need to be members of the Confederation of European Pest Management Association (CEPA). 

One of the main drivers behind the establishment of a benchmark for the pest control industry was to protect the sector from having an arbitrary standard. The outcome was the launch of EN 16636 - more commonly referred to as CEPA Certified - the first European standard for pest management services. 

Six months on from the introduction of CEPA Certified and it would appear that UK companies are leading the way in adopting the new standard. The scheme is being rolled out widely, and it is already possible to find a CEPA Certified operator anywhere in the UK or Ireland. It is estimated that as of July 2016 more than 50% of all UK and Irish inspections are being undertaken by technicians operating under a CEPA Certified system.

The BPCA has created a cost-effective model through which all its members are being audited by a single independent body to assess conformity to the EN 16636 standard. 

Customers will, too, benefit from the more rigorous approach of CEPA Certified. The food industry has seen huge change over the last 10 years, largely driven by retailers own standards and those of the various Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) approved standard owners. CEPA Certified is helping align the pest control sector with the needs of its clients and ensures that pest control standards can be benchmarked. 

Simplified due diligence
For UK & Irish food processors choosing a CEPA Certified Pest Control Partner should simplify due diligence and risk assessment processes as they will already know that their chosen pest control partner has been rigorously assessed by a recognised certification body. Once contracted, a manufacturer should not notice any difference, but will have the assurance that the staff they have contracted are properly trained and that the use of poisons is being properly managed in line with legislation and best practice.

There should be no cost implications for the food industry. The CEPA Certified scheme has been designed to be cost-effective and the BPCA is subsidising the cost of audits for its members so there will be no additional cost to pass on.

Food businesses are becoming more aware of threats to the food chain and are increasingly wanting to eliminate all weak points in their defences. The introduction of CEPA Certified demonstrates that the pest management industry is also serious about its responsibilities and is an extra safeguard. The BPCA and IPCA are currently in discussion with customers and standard owners to ensure that they are aware of CEPA certification and what improvements the standard brings.

Peter Davison works at Bureau Veritas.

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