Dr. Stephen Kells weighs in on IPM inspections

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

Dr. Stephen Kells of the University of Minnesota delivered a presentation on the necessity for QA managers and their pest management partners to stay ahead of the curve in their commercial facilities. Regular and comprehensive inspections will prevent pests from gaining access to a structure.

“The first step in setting up effective inspection protocols is to make sure the program elements are tangible,” said Kells. “They need to be as real and accountable as possible.”

Inspection protocols must include checklists and plans that clearly define where and when the inspections are to be conducted in the facility. Kells notes that QA managers need to make sure there is a budget line item for covering the expense of the inspections so that they become a reality.

“Pest management is all about habitat management. A thorough inspection provides the clues as to where a facility is most vulnerable to pests and where pest activity is likely to occur,” says Kells. “Facility managers need to look for and appreciate the clues an inspection yields.”

The benefits of developing and conducting regular inspections go beyond simply preventing pests access to a facility – these steps can directly impact your bottom line.

“An inspection to identify the cause or location of a pest infestation can prevent a costly mass control procedure such as fogging or fumigation,” said Kells. “In addition to paying for the treatment, the facility will have to incur additional costs related to shutting down and restarting a production line or an entire facility.”

What do QA and facility managers need to keep in mind when developing inspection protocols? Kells recommends the following:

  1. Maintain a pest calendar noting when and where pest activity has been identified and where IPM practices have been deployed; this will help QA managers anticipate when they need to act in the future.
  2. Conduct a regular facility “walk-about” of pest-vulnerable areas and do so at key times when historical data (taken from the pest calendar) shows there could be a pest problem.

“Pest infestations are predictable if you keep and use the trend data gathered from regular inspections,” says Kells. “The information gathered during the inspection process can be invaluable to facility managers and their pest management partner.”

Agriculture, Food Processing & Manufacturing, Food Retail & Grocery, Restaurants