Archives - January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015
The recently completed Food Safety Summit in Baltimore has provided much for food processing, warehousing, transportation and distribution professionals to mull over as they look ahead to the second half of 2015.
The Sprague Pest Experts caught up with Quality Assurance & Food Safety magazine editor, Lisa Lupo, for her impressions on what topics are headlining food industry professionals’ “watch list” and it all starts with a little taste of culture.
As the deadline draws near – August 30, 2015 - for the final rules to be released for the Food Safety Modernization Act’s preventative controls for human and animal food, many industry observers are wondering how the U.S. FDA will get it all done.
The FDA does not have the staffing or resources to fully implement all aspects of FSMA right out of the gate and it is working with other federal and state agencies to find ways to spread the workload around. At the end of the day the FDA will get the job done and the food processing industry must be prepared to comply with the new rules and requirements.
The question on many food industry professionals’ mind is, “What guidance can the FDA give me for my specific facility?”
“QA and facility managers across the country are waiting for guidance on how the new rules apply to the specific and sometimes unique elements within their facility,” says Lupo. “Food processing facilities are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each has unique aspects to them and that has managers asking, ‘How do I need to prepare?’”
This is where the facility’s pest management partner can step in and serve as a valuable resource to the management team. Being able to advise the client on how the pest management services they currently provide will be impacted by FSMA and what, if any, changes may need to be done to their program.
Lupo says food industry managers should ask their pest management partner to help educate plant staff, management and the client’s customers on how their pest management program contributes to and helps maintain a proper food safety environment.
“Explaining why a certain pesticide is used and under what circumstances will help internal staff, their customers and suppliers as well,” says Lupo. “Having the threat explained as well as the solution benefits all parties.”
The recent listeria outbreak at Blue Bell Ice Cream reinforced the message that a product recall can have a huge impact on a company’s brand and balance sheet, and that safeguarding facilities from harmful bacteria – often transmitted through pests – is a top priority.
“Education, understanding and guidance on FSMA’s new requirements is what the food processing industry needs right now and it will be up to the FDA to educate while they regulate,”
Flies are one of the most commonly encountered pests in and around commercial facilities, especially in the summer months when pest pressure is on the rise. Aside from being a nuisance – who hasn’t spent part of a lunch or dinner taking a swipe or two at flies trying to share your entrée – these pests can spell trouble for food processing, healthcare and hospitality clients.
Flies present a significant public health threat to commercial accounts because of the harmful bacteria – E. coli and salmonella – they can transmit to food and food preparation, storage and cooking surfaces.
And as summer’s warmer temperatures push thermometer readings up, the rate of decomposition of the food sources flies like to feast on increases. From fresh produce to garbage, compost and animal feces, the quicker it spoils, breaks down and starts to smell, the more flies love it.
Fly infestations are usually the result of open doors to the facility and broken or torn screens on windows, doors and air vents. Look at the areas around these openings for items that are attracting flies and other pests in the first place.
Having done battle with flies in an array of accounts, the Sprague Pest Experts have learned the key to eliminating flies comes down to employing good sanitation practices and identifying the source of the infestation and breeding locations.
The Fly Management Checklist
→ Keep It Clean
Good sanitation practices in and around your facility are critical to keeping flies from gaining a foothold. When you consider a single garbage can that is not emptied can be a breeding ground for thousands of flies, you’ll think twice about waiting to take out the trash.
The Sprague Pest Experts recommend using tight-fitting closures for garbage and recycling receptacles, and to empty, clean, and dry them on regular basis. Also keep food preparation, storage and serving areas clean of grease spills, crumbs and other food particles. Trash bins and dumpsters should never be placed near the building but at least 50 feet away from potential entry points (i.e. doors, windows, etc.)
→ Fly Identification
Correctly identifying the fly species infesting your facility is the first step to gaining the upper hand. A correct identification allows you to determine the cause of the infestation and select a control option; an incorrect identification can lead you on a wild goose chase wasting valuable time and resources. The Sprague Pest Experts will make the correct identification and then design a treatment plan specific to the fly specie involved.
→ Getting Rid of Flies
Once you have identified the type of fly you are dealing with and the source of the infestation, then it is time to get rid of them. Exterior fly traps and treatments will prevent flies from entering a structure, and checking air intake vents for proper screening and using air curtains above doors will further protect your facility from these unwanted visitors. The Sprague Pest Experts also recommend bioremediation treatments to eat away at decaying debris that builds up in drains, grout lines and other areas and attracts flies.
Remember when Big Bertha, the 57 foot , 4 inch giant cutting tool, was slicing the new Highway 99 tunnel underneath downtown Seattle and poised to stir up the area’s well-entrenched rodent population? Well ever since Bertha’s progress came to a grinding – excuse the pun – halt in December 2013 when it hit a groundwater research pipe people have wondered, “Are Sven the Rat and his friends in the clear?”
The answer to that is no. Now that Bertha has made the long journey up from its access pit for repairs, the project’s completion date has been pushed back to August 2017. Combine that ongoing activity with other nearby construction projects and you can expect Seattle’s rodents to continue to be on the move.
Sprague Pest Experts are encouraging Seattle businesses and property managers to remain vigilant in their rodent prevention efforts by sealing up possible rodent access points and maintaining good sanitation protocols. If necessary, call our rodent experts for help with implementing solutions to rats and mice.
When it comes to identifying hazards in the workplace some things are more obvious than others. A wet floor or broken handrail on a staircase is an obvious hazard that could lead to injuries, lost time and lawsuits. But when it comes to hazards in food safety the threats are not always as obvious.
Bacteria that can lead to food-borne illnesses such as listeria or E. coli, is odorless, colorless and not always obvious to the naked eye. However, the transmitters of these bacteria are more obvious and can come in the form of pests including rodents, flies and cockroaches.
One of the first items on the Sprague Pest Expert’s risk/hazard checklist is identifying potential risk areas within a facility and determining the probability of a hazard occurring in that area because of the risk.
A grain receiving area of a commercial bakery has the potential for rodents and insect pests to be brought in inside a shipment of raw material. With that knowledge it can be assumed the risk for a pest issue in that area is high.
As a result the pest management program needs to include items such as additional bait/trapping stations in that area, increased inspections, a review of the pest history of the incoming shipments, sanitation protocols and conditions of the source and along the transportation route, etc. - to reduce the risk.
“Knowing what is coming into the facility and where it is coming from is important,” says Jeff Weier, technical director for Sprague Pest Solutions. “Asking why a pest would be in this area of the facility will help you get to the root cause of the infestation and determine your next step.”
Also included in the risk/hazard assessment is taking into consideration the geographic area surrounding the facility. If a facility is located in an urban area vs. a rural area there are different threats or hazards. For example, if there is a large open field next to your facility the threat of increased rodent activity will be higher.
“Risk is temporal and is influenced by time, location and conducive conditions found within and around an account,” says Weier. “Risk is not static, it is variable and this must be considered when designing and implementing a pest management program.”
Distinguishing what is a risk and what is a hazard is also important. A risk could be Indian meal moths infesting a container of wheat and damaging the product by altering its taste and freshness but not posing a health threat to consumers.
On the other hand, if a fly that had recently been in contact with manure in the cow pasture next door to a food processing facility enters and lands on a food preparation surface or gets into a piece of machinery leaving behind bacteria, the risk of a food-borne illnesses suddenly becomes a hazard to consumers.
Weier says the pest management industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation when it comes to assessing risks and hazards in food processing facilities and how it designs pest management programs for these facilities.
“We no longer simply follow a formula when it comes to identifying what is a risk and what is a hazard in a facility,” says Weier. “Our assessment takes into account a much wider view and includes the geographic location of the facility, construction of the facility, what products the facility produces, where they source ingredients and the plant’s management practices.”
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