Food Processing Pest Control Tips from an Expert

Food processing facilities play a key role in feeding millions of people each year. However, the food that goes in and out of your facility is also appealing to another hungry population – pests.

Having a pest problem can be detrimental to your business’s success and credibility, so knowing how to prevent pests in your facility is critical. Pests can easily come in and out of food processing facilities due to constant employee traffic and inbound ingredient, packaging, and other shipments. Plus, registered food facilities often provide pests all they need to survive once inside: abundant food, water, and shelter. Once pests make their way into your facility, their removal can be a challenge.

This is also why effective pest management starts with the help of a professional. Shannon Sked, a BCE entomologist and Food Safety Specialist (A-SQF, PCQI), is an expert when it comes to and pest prevention pre-requisites. We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions to learn more about pest management for food processing facilities:photo of Western entomologist Shannon Sked

Q: We know there are certain pest-related industry standards and regulations that food processing plants must abide by. Can you explain how to ensure facility managers are complying and how pest management can help?

A: With the adoption of the new rules under FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) recently, and expected additional rule filings happening soon, the rule that’s most impactful for pest prevention in the Food Safety Plan of Facilities is the “Preventive Controls Rules for Human and Animal Food,” which revolves around a hazard analysis. This analysis is a foundational procedure that affects compliance with other regulations. Conducting a hazard analysis addresses the food safety risks associated with pests by determining how a facility can manage pest-risk, as determined by a trained professional. This is true whether the risk is internal within the facility, due to inbound supplier sources, or simply a risk inherent with the processes in place. The idea is that each facility should analyze their risk in order to make an informed plan on how to mitigate those risks.

And that is true for pest prevention as well as any other aspect of food safety. To help our customers prepare for this, Western Pest Services conducts a pest prevention hazard analysis with every prospective customer prior to offering a proposal that is free of charge. We provide a professional outlook on their pest prevention, sanitation and facilities maintenance prerequisites to determine the appropriate pest management program needed each specific facility.

Q: What should we look for when selecting a pest management partner for a food processing facility?

A: For the food industry, pest professionals need to be entomologists and food safety professionals. To meet this need for our customers at Western, we have several people on staff that have the expertise and the credentials in both the science of entomology and the science of food safety, including:

  • Academically accredited entomologists
  • Board Certified Entomologists through the Entomological Society of America
  • Service providers with a high level of entomological competence as Associate Certified Entomologists
  • Professionals who have completed FSMA specific training requirements as Preventive Control Qualified Individuals (PCQI)
  • Food Safety professionals who are third-party credentialed in food safety, such as AIB certified, Advanced SQF Practitioners, SQF Practitioners, etc.

For example, I fit into several of these categories, and these trainings and credentials allow me to support Western Pest’s customers with their food safety needs. At Western, we even have a certified Supply Auditor within our internal Quality Assurance program. Before you select a pest management partner, make sure that the company includes professionals that specialize in both the food industry and pest control.

Q: Lastly, what trends should we look out for related to food processing pest prevention?

A: We live in a dynamic global economy that is ever changing. Because of this, we have to deal with common pests for food processing as well as novel pests from other parts of the world. These two components of pest prevention have to be happening in synchrony too. Novel pests are always on the horizon; Spotted Lanternfly, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Asian Longhorn Beetle, and Emerald Ash Borer, to name a few. It’s important that pest management focuses on how to best prevent foreign pests from entering while continuing to prevent common pests like rodents, cockroaches and stored product pest species from becoming a problem in any food facility. If you notice new pests in your facility, lean on a pest management partner to help eliminate the issue.

Learn about Western’s pest solutions for the food processing industry and how an expert like Shannon can help create a customized solution for your facility.