It’s no secret that pest problems can plague food production, handling and storage facilities as they damage and contaminate food products and, in some cases, cause structural damage. But misapplication and inappropriate use of pesticide products to control pest populations can be detrimental to the environment, people and a facility’s products. That’s why pest control companies are moving towards a balanced, sustainable approach: Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
IPM emphasizes biological, mechanical and cultural controls to reduce pest activity, using the least toxic chemical-treatments when needed and as a last resort. Because we understand where pests live and how they behave, pest experts can take proactive steps to keep pests away, as well as identify and remove the conditions that are attracting them in the first place.
To make sure your facility is implementing green pest management tactics, you need to first have a conversation with your provider. Even if you are already practicing IPM, you may find there are additional steps you can take to improve your environmental impact. If your facility does not use IPM strategies, here’s how you should get started:
1. Assess Your Facility
Before you implement an IPM program, you – and your pest management provider – need to understand the existing and potential pest pressures your facility is facing (or is likely to face). A thorough inspection will help identify and evaluate any underlying issues, including pest harbourage, sanitation and structural deficiencies that could be attracting pests and sustaining their populations. The inspection should also take into account the age of your facility, surrounding geography and any other conditions that could influence pest activity.
2. Implement a Program
The key to a success with IPM is customization. Cookie-cutter solutions are ineffective, and instead, your pest management program should be designed in response to the findings from your facility’s inspection. There may be existing pest problems that you need to address immediately, but in the long run, your pest management program should focus on prevention, starting with exclusion, habitat modification, maintenance and sanitation techniques that eliminate the conditions that attract pests. In the event pesticide treatments are needed, you should work with your provider to create a pre-approved list of acceptable products that are the most effective with the least impact on the environment.
3. Monitor and Adjust
Over time, pest pressures can change. So, it’s crucial that you establish a regular program for documenting your corrective and preventive actions and monitoring for pest activity. There are several types of pesticide-free monitoring devices that can be used, so you should talk to your provider about which ones are best suited for your facility. If you and your provider notice trends, you should adjust your pest management program to intervene and address the new issues.
For the most effective, eco-friendly IPM program, your maintenance and sanitation programs are critical. By keeping your facility in tip-top shape, you are able to simultaneously eliminate many of the conditions that make the property appealing to pests. Here are a few best practices that should be incorporated into your staff’s daily and weekly routines:
To prevent pest entry:
- Caulk cracks, gaps and crevices in the exterior walls of your building. Rats can fit through holes just the size of a quarter and cockroaches can slide through cracks as small as 1/6 of a centimetre.
- Maintain door and window seals in good condition and replace door sweeps as needed.
- Keep exterior doors closed at all-times. Don’t prop open doors when accepting shipments, for example. If a door needs to be kept open, install a door screen.
- Designate an area for unloading shipments to avoid spreading pests from a contaminated product.
- Inspect incoming shipments for pest activity. Look for live or dead insects, as well as rodent droppings or stains.
- Clean up produce and product spills and fix water leaks immediately.
- Remove trash daily and wash bins weekly. Regularly hose down garbage and compactor rooms as well.
- Clean hard to reach areas and voids around and inside equipment to eliminate buildup.
- Store food items off the floor to make them more difficult for pests to access.
- Remove clutter like wooden pallets and cardboard boxes where pests can find harbourage.
- Maintain a perimeter space and inspection aisles in storage areas for effective pest monitoring.