At this year’s Sprague Food Safety Pest Management Conference, the Sprague Pest Experts and some the nation’s leading food safety and pest management authorities shared the latest information on food safety and pest management trends and practices.

One of the sessions focused on Integrated Pest Management practices and how, when designed and deployed correctly, IPM can deliver and exceed the desired results. Sprague Pest Solution’s Technical Director, Jeff Weier, broke down the company’s approach to IPM in food processing and distribution facilities.

Weier encouraged pest professionals to use the numerous control options at their disposal. “Technology should serve us and support what we need it to do,” Weier said, emphasizing technology’s vital role in delivering a fully-integrated IPM program.

The philosophy behind Sprague’s “extreme” IPM program follows these principles:

  • Use technology to your advantage
  • Be pro-active rather than reactive
  • Chemical solutions are temporary solutions
  • Always seek permanent rather than temporary solutions
  • Exclude the pests first
  • Use selective solutions

As regulatory scrutiny increases and third-party audits become more demanding and invasive, QA managers need to consider a more evolved version of IPM with their pest management partner or in-house staff. This new advanced program should focus on:

  • Inspection
  • Trend analysis
  • Identification
  • Risk assessment
  • Identifying vulnerable areas
  • Developing and implementing an action/response plan (thresholds)
  • Evaluation of results and modification of the risk assessment and action plan if goals are not met as part of the validation process

 “Our IPM philosophy is to identify those prevention and elimination methods that, as much as possible, impact the target pest, effectively eliminate it but affect nothing else,” said Weier.

Weier talked about the “stacking effect” of treatment options when designing and executing a pest management program in a food processing facility. The pieces of the “stacking effect” puzzle include:

  • Fumigation
  • Targeted insecticide applications
  • A comprehensive inspection of incoming shipments for signs of pest activity
  • Exclusion
  • Trapping
  • Solid, consistently applied sanitation protocols

On every service visit, Weier and Sprague’s service technicians focus on achieving a permanent solution to the client’s pest problem.  They practices are outlined below.

  • Make no routine or general surface applications
  • Preventative applications are generally not justified
  • Choose the proper formulation and application technique
  • Identify and remove the source of the infestation and the conditions that allow pests to survive
  • Choose products and application methods that are effective and low risk (least toxic)
  • Strive to reduce waste
  • Give preference to materials and applications that are target-specific.

Post-treatment evaluation and validation are an equally important part of the IPM process. Reviewing which elements of the plan are working and what needs to be adjusted is critical.

“Verification of a control program means we are doing what we said we would, but validation means the program is meeting the needs of the client – and that is what we are aiming for,” said Weier.