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Pest Management Documentation
by Zia Siddiqi, PhD, BCE
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series of articles that provide a practical approach to various pest control topics.
Paper trails. They don’t have a great reputation, do they? In fact, during most scenarios when paper trails are mentioned in conversation, the general consensus is the group doesn’t want a paper trail to be left. The group simply doesn’t want to allow any evidence to exist that would track its steps and actions.
However, when it comes to pest management and food safety, you undoubtedly need to have a paper trail. Documentation is the key to proving to an auditor that your facility has an efficient and effective pest management program. The pest control portion of your facility’s third-party food safety audit can account for up to 20 percent of the final score, and without proper documentation, your facility doesn’t stand a chance.
Food processing plants are governed by several third-party audit standards, with the most common being the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), Safe Quality Food (SQF), the British Retail Consortium (BRC), and other food safety certification criteria. Other third-party food safety auditors like American Institute of Baking (AIB), NSF, Silliker, and YUM! Brands use similar standards to make sure the facilities they audit are compliant with the food safety requirements.
These auditors inspect pest management programs to ensure that no pests—no matter how big or small—can put your company’s products in danger of contamination. Auditors like AIB, Silliker, and YUM! Brands actually consider pest control to be so important that they will give a failing score (for the pest control section) to a facility without even the slightest hesitation if they find significant problems with the pest management program. With that in mind, it is essential to thoroughly prepare your team and facility for third-party audits.
The Need for Documentation
Although auditors inspect your facility for proper placement of pest management devices and storage of pest management materials, documentation cannot be overlooked. Documentation is the only piece of evidence that demonstrates your facility’s adherence to a formal pest management program. Without documentation, there is no way to verify the proper processes are being carried out, and as a result, you may end up with a mediocre audit score.
What Documentation Includes
The first piece of documentation required by auditors is the scope of service of the pest management program. This document outlines the roles and responsibilities of the pest management professional, as well as the facility staff. It also details the kinds of pests that will be targeted by the program and how their activity will be managed.
At the end of every service visit, your pest management professional should fill out a signed service report that includes comprehensive details on the tasks that were executed and the date completed. These service reports are extremely important to your facility, as third-party auditors review them to confirm your facility and pest management professional are following the guidelines set forth in the scope of service by taking necessary corrective and preventive actions.
On-site documentation should also include a pesticide usage log. Improper pesticide application can pose a massive threat to food safety because products can be contaminated as a result, so the pesticide usage log exists to assure the third-party auditor that your pest management professional is using these materials appropriately. The pesticide usage log should detail all pest management materials that have been used, in addition to the trade name and active ingredients in each product. Dates, times, and sites of applications, as well as the targeted pests and frequency of applications, are also key details to include in the pesticide usage log. The pest management professional must sign the log to validate its authenticity.
Another major part of pest management documentation is the map of the pest control devices utilized at your facility. Every single device the pest management professional uses—glueboards, insect light traps, mechanical traps, bait stations, pheromone traps, among others—both inside and outside the plant must be included in the map. Third-party auditors compare the device map with the actual placement of those devices in the facility, and if the two do not match, audit scores often decline. Avoid this by ensuring your map is updated whenever a new device is installed or an old device is removed.
In addition to these items, your documentation must also include pest sighting logs, pest trend logs, and corrective action reports.
Pest sighting logs. Every time you or a member of your staff see a pest, it is imperative to fill out a pest sighting report to record when and where the pest was spotted.
Pest trend logs. Once you’ve filled out enough pest sighting reports, you can establish pest activity trends over time. The pest trend log should document these trends, which is why it’s important to fill out pest sighting reports every single time.
Corrective action reports. Whenever the pest management professional makes recommendations for improvements to your pest management program, you should follow through on the instructions. The corrective action reports detail each recommendation made by the pest professional and whether the facility complied with the recommendations. If your facility does not comply, points could be taken from the final audit score.
In addition, auditors will check for copies of the pest management professional’s liability insurance, license, and the training certification of the individual who is actually conducting the service at your facility.
To make it easy for your pest management professional to keep all of this information updated after each service, place all of these documents into a logbook that is kept on-site for the auditors to access easily. In the event of unplanned or unannounced audits, this logbook is instrumental in helping the facility achieve a high score, even if you are not able to prepare fully.
For added security, hold monthly or quarterly meetings with your pest management professional to review and update the documentation and pest management program. With all of these documents in place, a high audit score can be ensured for your facility no matter when the auditor comes knocking.
Dr. Siddiqi is director of quality systems for Orkin, LLC. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, he is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. Dr. Siddiqi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.