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From: Food Quality & Safety magazine, April/May 2006

Why Effective Pest Control is Essential for Food Processing Plants and Warehouses

Today’s Food Plants’ Pest Control Programs Should be Effective, Fully Documented and Automated

by Gary Hugé

During our more than 70 years of business, Professional Pest Control has seen the evolution of food plants and warehouses’ pest control. In the 1940s, my father gave a speech to the Dubuque Dairy Technological Society concerning a serious housefly problem. Although the control method in that era was the spraying of DDT, he spoke about the importance of sanitation and the new Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act enacted by Congress on June 24, 1938. Also at this time the Food and Drug Administration became responsible for enforcing this act. This was the first step in the evolution from broadcast spraying of DDT to the scientific pest control applications of today.

Today’s food plants’ pest control programs should be effective, fully documented and automated. To be effective there are many guidelines that must be strictly followed. Currently, these guidelines are being updated by an advisory council to the National Pest Management Association. My brother, Tom Hugé, is a member of this council and these new guidelines should be available within the year.

Documentation programs are essential to analyze or review any trouble areas, service histories and records of all materials used on the premises. Many times, this will be the most important information that third-party auditors will examine.

Automation has hit the pest control industry in a big way. Rodent stations can be checked via portable scanners. All pertinent information can be entered in databases for historical reviews and customers can view their data in real time over a secured database. This is great for quality control directors with multiple locations.

Pest control in the future will continue to be technology driven. Pest tolerances will be stricter. Pest control materials will continue to be less toxic and because of that, pest control technicians will continue to be more professional.

An effective pest control program will be dependent on effective technicians. They must be imaginative. For instance, I was taught by Dr. Murray Cooper in the 1970s that entering an account from a different door and performing treatment in a counter-clockwise direction versus a clockwise direction will give the technician a completely different perspective. By going the opposite direction the technician may observe spider webbing or rodent droppings that may have been missed.

Another concept is to look in the unexpected areas. Once I asked management to allow me access to the roof of a multi-story candy manufacturing facility. No one had inspected the roof, so access was difficult. Once up there, we discovered hundreds of Fecal Pigeons and inches of toxic droppings. This was an unsanitary and unsafe situation. With other rooftops, there have been massive puddles supporting huge housefly and mosquito populations.

As you can see, pest control has been and always will be about trained and motivated technicians. To preserve your company’s reputation, know your facility’s pest control program and always keep track of the documentation.

Gary Hugé is vice president of ASI Food Safety Consultants (St. Louis, Mo.) and president of Professional Pest Control. Reach him at 1-800-477-0778.

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