The consequences of poor pest management are real, affecting not only businesses’ reputation but also their bottom lines.
In 2016, Baketime Ltd. recalled various branded biscuit, snack and confectionery products due to pest infestation at its factory. These products were sold by UK retailers including Aldi, Asvina, Booker and LBV. The full list of the affected products can be seen in the FSA website. Also in UK, Supermarket Netto recalled two rice products in 2016 due to possible pest contamination. The supplier (Germany) suspected that pest contamination occurred at their packing site. Abbott recalled 5 million containers of top-selling Similac powdered infant formula in US, Puerto Rico, Guam and other Caribbean markets in 2010, after identifying beetles and larvae of the bugs in the finished product. The company estimated at the time that this incident would reduce their quarter revenue by $100 million.
The consequences of poor pest management are real, affecting not only businesses’ reputation but also their bottom lines. This was clearly demonstrated in a report produced by Centre for Economics and Business Research Ltd (March 2015) where the economic impact of pest infestation was studied across five developed economies (UK, France, Italy, USA and Australia). Operating costs among the 5 countries were estimated to increase by £5.8 billion and revenue to decline £11.8 billion due to pest infestations. Twenty two percent of the companies surveyed reported damages on the final products due to pest contamination. But finish goods damage wasn’t the most commonly-cited reason to impact business costs. In all five countries, the first reason reported was “Impact on staff morale”.
Organization should address pest management as a continuous process included on their food safety system
Pests found in food industry environments vary according to geography, climate and type of ingredients processed. Serious contamination such as Salmonella may be transmitted by pests. A description of cockroaches and their hazards to food processing are presented bellow (more examples will be sent to all Food Safety Books Connected members together with the article PDF)
Organization should address pest management as a continuous process included on their food safety system. The first step and where organization should employ most of their efforts is prevention. Some examples of preventive measures are listed below. It is essential that food safety practitioners study well the facilities and surroundings to understand the kind of threats the facilities are exposed to and the best preventive measures to adopt.
- Adequate waste management
- Seal all pest entry points
- Discourage vegetation growth on the perimeter
- Eliminate clutter and guarantee adequate space between pallets
- Guarantee adequate product rotation (e.g. FIFO)
- Guarantee adequate temperature and humidity storage conditions
- Remove sources of food, water and shelter
Scheduling a regular inspection and monitoring is the step where information is collected assessing if the preventive measures and treatments are being effective. The frequency of the inspections and monitoring should take in consideration the likelihood of each area to provide shelter, passage or feed to pest. When during inspection or monitoring pests evidences are found it is important to identify the pest and analyse the probable cause for its occurrence and historical events. Finally it is necessary to assess if the treatment used is the correct or if any reinforcement should be done.
All the documentation used to study and define the preventive measures, records from inspections /monitoring and technical characteristics of the treatments used should be kept updated and available. The figure on the right resumes the pest management process.
All schemes mention that potential pest access points shall be sealed and openings designed to minimize entry of pests
BRC, SQF, IFS and FSSC 22000 address pest control on their food safety systems in a dedicated clause (a table that resume the information about pest control on those systems will be sent to all Food Safety Books Connected members). It is generally mentioned that pest control programes shall be implemented and documented. Those programs shall also guarantee that:
- Contracted pest control services or organizations have appropriately trained staff
- Procedures are applied so as to prevent potential contamination of products
- Results of inspections are analysed to identify trends.
All schemes mention that potential pest access points shall be sealed and openings designed to minimize entry of pests.
In FSSC 22000 is stated the importance of establishing hygiene, cleaning and incoming materials inspection procedures to avoid creating an environment conducive to pest activity. IFS also refer incoming deliveries shall be checked on arrival. IFS is the only standard that does not clearly states the importance of storage practices to minimize the attraction of pests.
Managing waste disposal in accordance to prevent accumulation/filth and pest contamination is referred in IFS, SQF and BRC. These last two standards also mention to maintain the area surrounding the premises in order to reduce the risk of contamination. FSSC 22000 and BRC address the importance of design and location of temporary structures to avoid pest harbourage.
This article was written in collaboration with Gabriela Silva
Disclaimer: The information contained on this article is based on research done in the last months and the authors personal experience and opinion. It is not intended to represent the view of any organization they work for or collaborate with. The authors will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information provided in the article.