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Getting the best pest control results

15 October 2017

Many food production sites are now working with pest controllers to implement strategies to limit non-conformances in industry standards such as BRC by employing integrated pest management (IPM) practices to help limit the risk of pest infestation. 

According to David Harrison, director of PestProof Pest Control IPM is the most sustainable way to limit pest presence. By integrating appropriate measures, the development of pest populations can be discouraged and the use of pesticides and other interventions kept to levels that are economically justified to reduce or minimise risks to human health and the environment.  “We would rather ‘proof’ sites with preventative measures, than treat infestations when they arise,” said Harrison. “We understand the pest’s lifecycles, so employ cultural practices before treating with toxic baits. This means we make the production environment inhabitable for pests, limiting their ability to get in.” 

This can include simple procedures such as bristle strip proofing under doors, installing fly screens on windows and doors and installing strip curtains across access points all help to minimise the risk of pests. However, such measures can be expensive. “Being more environmentally friendly can, unfortunately impact the bottom line for customers,” said Harrison. “We are also finding that the job of keeping food production sites pest free is getting harder as auditors put tougher restrictions in place. Toxic baits are not permitted inside food production areas, so when rodent activity is present, we have to notify the sites customers and ask permission to treat the issue.” This can take up to six weeks, leaving time for the infestation to reach critical levels. 

Non-toxic baits
“Using non-toxic baits does mean that more monitoring is required, which is time-consuming and food manufacturing sites need to understand that as the auditing process limits our toolbox, it does take more time to do our job,” continued Harrision. 

To aid monitoring there are some effective non-toxic baits that have been developed for the food industry. Harmonix Monitoring Paste from Bayer, for example, is a hypoallergenic non-toxic rodent monitoring ‘pasta’ bait that’s highly palatable to both rats and mice and it does not contain any of the main eight food allergens.

“Recently we have moved one fresh produce site that supplies several supermarkets completely over to Harmonix Monitoring Paste. The monitoring blocks weren’t working – there was pest activity but the mice weren’t taking the bait. This new monitoring tool is soft and fits into bait boxes easily, it also has very little odour which is good news, as mice are deterred by strong smelling bait,” said Harrison. 

Richard Moseley, Bayer technical manager, explains that Harmonix Monitoring Paste is more suitable for application in facilities such as food production factories without contamination, it also has good sustainability credentials, as it won’t harm non-target species if accidentally consumed. The paste has also been certified by HACCP International as being suitable for use in food manufacturing premises.

24-hour monitoring is possible with the product. “It can be clearly seen if rodents have eaten the bait, as their droppings will glow blue when a UV light is shone at night time,” said Moseley.
To assist site managers in building a structured IPM plan, Bayer has developed an online risk assessment tool to help assess the risk of infestation and develop a strategy to stop pests entering the building. “The tool takes the user through a systematic assessment of their facility. We’ve taken into account more than 40 common risk points. We know that the best IPM programmes rely on a strong working relationship between the site staff and the pest controller. In my experience, the best results occur where there is clarity around procedures and the responsibilities of both parties,” concludes Moseley.

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