Archives - January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015
To assist small to medium-size food processors and farm owners meet the training, education and technical assistance requirements of the new standards established under FSMA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced it was teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fund training efforts in these critical areas.
In a statement, the FDA says priority will be given to those submitting grant applications to train owners and operators of small and medium-size farms; farmers just starting out in business; socially disadvantaged farmers; small food processors; small fruit and vegetable wholesalers; and farms that lack access to food safety training and other educational opportunities.
Training and education are key components to the successful implementation of FSMA and the ability of food processors and growers to successfully pass third-party audits, which have increased in frequency with the growing influence of GFSI and other audit standards. For more information on the program visit www.nifa.usda.gov
In a related note, the FDA announced this month that is was requesting an additional $109.5 million in funding to help with the implementation of FSMA as part of the President’s 2016 budget.
Rats are a prevalent pest in many commercial facilities especially those located in urban areas near bodies of water. The Seattle waterfront, for example, has long-been a haven for rats seeking harborage in the sewers, basements, crawlspaces and under sidewalks that are abundantly available in these areas.
These opportunistic, disease-laden pests not only pose a threat to food safety but also to the structural integrity of a building. The Sprague Pest Experts offer the following facts on these most unwelcome visitors:
- Although the roof rat was established first in the United States, the more aggressive Norway rat is the most frequently encountered species.
- Rats in urban areas have a lifespan of only five to 12 months.
- Active rat burrows have a smooth, well-worn appearance at the entrances. Inactive entrances often are covered with vegetation or cobwebs.
- An effective way to check and see if a burrow is active is to cave the entrance in (if possible) and then check back in a day or two to check for signs of activity.
- Rats are weary of new objects or sudden changes to their environment – this is known as “neophobia.”
- Norway rats are skilled swimmers and readily adapt to water; this is why sewers and other waterways are often used as travel routes.
It may seem unkind for the Sprague Pest Experts to be endorsing mating disruption so soon after Valentine’s Day but we aren’t in the matchmaking business for pests. We actually want to see our client’s and pests break up for good!
Putting a damper on the romance stored product pests have with food processing and storage facilities is a job Sprague Pest Solution’s Jeff Weier has just the right antidote for – mating disruption.
Mating disruption is the process of introducing artificial pheromones into a facility with the intention of distracting male stored product pests – Indian meal and flour moths mainly – as they are trying to make a love connection with their female counterparts during mating season.
The artificial pheromones create “false trails” that make it harder for male moths to find their soul mates and when that happens mating doesn’t occur, eggs are not laid and the populations of these destructive pests drops.
“Male Indian meal moths communicate with females through pheromone plumes and if those are disrupted it can have a significant impact on their ability to mate and reproduce,” says Weier.
The veteran pest management professional says adult moths have a short life span and compares it to buying a new car with a full tank of gas but no means to refill the tank once you drive off the lot.
“Moths emerge from pupae with a ‘full tank’ but as they start searching for females to mate with they burn off their energy reserves and can die quickly,” says Weier. “The artificial pheromones cause this disruption making it harder for males to located females and causing them to use more energy in the process.”
He says that “disrupted” female moths do not eat every day and will start reabsorbing their natural egg load to survive. This lessens the amount of eggs available even if a male moth finds them to mate.
Even though pheromones products are naturally occurring this particular application method makes them a registered pesticide. However, they are certified for use in organic food processing facilities and there is no danger of food product absorbing the pheromones unless it comes in direct contact with the dispenser.
The Sprague Pest Experts typically place the pheromone dispensers twice a year (April/May and July/August) to ensure coverage through the entire moth mating season. The dispensers are placed within facilities and can treat an entire warehouse but they have also proven successful in treating specific sections or even aisles in a facility.
A thorough pest monitoring program is also a key part of the process. Sprague uses standard pheromone traps and light traps to track pest population levels, and the fewer female moths that are caught the more likely that the program is working.
Weier says technicians check the traps twice a month may have to adjust the number and location of the dispensers and increase levels of the artificial pheromones to tackle larger infestations.
“Mating disruption for stored product pests is a selective process and only works on the targeted pest but it is the most significant advancement in stored product moth control since the industry used methyl bromide,” says Weier, who has been using mating disruption programs in client’s facilities since 2003. “It has had almost miraculous results in some cases.”
Establishing and maintaining a successful pest management program in a commercial facility requires an open and honest partnership between the client and the pest management professional. Both parties need to be in sync and on the same page to ensure that pests do not become an issue that results in damaging financial, brand or regulatory repercussions.
The client’s role in creating a pest-free environment centers on two main principals – providing the necessary resources (i.e. financial, company buy in, etc.) and placing a strong focus on exclusion and sanitation efforts.
When the Sprague Pest Experts are at a facility responding to a pest issue, the first two questions we ask are, “How did they get in?” and “How did they develop a harborage inside the facility?” Cracking the code to get the answers to these questions requires the assistance of the facility’s quality assurance representative or a member of the management team responsible for pest control.
These managers are the ones who can rally the troops and secure top to bottom buy-in with the current pest management plans. It isn’t an understatement to say that every employee can be a productive part of the process. After all, the best inspectors are the facility’s employees who are the program’s eyes and ears when it comes to spotting potential pest issues.
For example, in a food processing facility having the sanitation and maintenance staffs participate in discussions or inspections regarding pest issues is vital. These personnel are the ones doing the deep cleaning or changing out filters on machinery. They are the ones responsible for installing the door sweeps or making sure air intakes are properly screened.
What they see in the course of their work can greatly assist a pest management professional in determining what pests are trying to gain access to the building and where they are trying to do it. Again, they are the first set of eyes and ears in the battle against pests.
Today, managers in commercial facilities – whether it is an apple processing facility or a mixed-use retail and entertainment complex – are challenged to do more with less. It is important to remember that the Sprague Pest Experts can be the more in this equation.
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