Breaking Down the Difference Between Pest Prevention and Pest Control

June 4, 2019

Pest control of yesteryear was basic in its premise: If an insect or rodent was observed in a facility, the pest control company came up with a way to eliminate it. There was more to the process but it was very much a reactionary process.

Oh, how things have changed. Today’s pest management protocols start with preventive strategies designed to keep pests from accessing facilities in the first place and becoming an issue.

This approach is driven by mandates set forth under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that stress pest prevention first. A preventive mindset compliments a facility’s integrated pest management (IPM) program that includes good sanitation protocols, exclusion, cultural practices and landscaping that discourages pest habitation.

Clark Pest Control visited with noted commercial pest management strategist and consultant Dan Collins B.C.E., to get his take on the difference between a pest prevention program and a pest control program.

What is the difference between pest prevention and pest control?

Pest prevention is a proactive approach to keep pests out of a facility and pest control is a reactive response – the application of pesticides or the deployment of baits and traps – to eliminate a specific pest threat.

“Pest prevention is a more comprehensive approach that includes a variety of elements including trend analysis, sanitation and cultural practices,” says Collins. “It looks at things from the 30,000 ft. level.”

A preventive approach defines what the client is responsible for, what the pest management professional is responsible for and makes sure both parties are fulfilling their responsibilities.

Pest control is more tactical and ground level and can include checking traps, changing bait, etc.

How are clients involved in the process?

Clients are a key part of the pest prevention process and the level of buy-in, from the c-suite to the loading dock, will often determine the effectiveness of your pest program.

What are some examples of pest prevention? They include:

  • Determining who is responsible on staff for inspecting incoming shipments for signs of pests.
  • Establishing a uniform cleaning protocol so employees don’t accidentally bring pests inside a facility and introduce them to locker room areas.
  • Determining what areas of a plant should be wet washed rather than dry washed to reduce moisture attracting pests like cockroaches or flies.
  • Making sure the physical condition of the plant is solid and that basic maintenance tasks – installing door sweeps or sealing expansion joints – to keep pests out are being taken care of.
  • Locating dumpsters away from entrances and making sure they are cleaned regularly.
  • Conducting regular wellness checks of your program with your pest management service provider to make sure it is working as it should.

Reaping the Benefits

While pest prevention does require a bigger investment of time, people and resources on the front end, once the system is in place it becomes second nature and lessens a facility’s pest exposure.

Plant and QA managers, as well as upper management, want to avoid product recalls or not have product shipments rejected by clients because of a pest-related issue. Not only is this costly to the bottom line but to a company’s brand reputation as well.

“If pest prevention programs are in place there will be no knee-jerk reactions should an issue come up,” says Collins. “It allows facility and QA managers to better manage and reduce risk.”

How long does it take to transition to a pest prevention program? Collins says it depends on the size and complexity of the plant and what products are produced at the facility.

“There are many variables involved but it should take about 60 days to make an effective transition,” says Collins. “Once in place you won’t constantly have to put out fires when it comes to pest-related issues. You’ll be ahead of the game.”

Plants will also stay in line with the fundamental mandates of FSMA and that should bring a smile to the faces of facility and QA managers and their bosses.

Employee training is another important element to a successful pest prevention program. It is important to explain to employees how their actions impact the program and understand why it is necessary to have a program in place and set up a certain way.

“Explaining why they are being asked to do things a certain way and how their efforts lead to improved quality and higher levels of food safety will make it easier to understand and secure their buy in,” says Collins.

This is Pest Prevention….

  • Conducting risk assessments and frequent inspections
  • Eliminating conducive conditions
  • Conducting practice audits
  • Establishing sanitation protocols including equipment cleaning
  • Staying on top of facility maintenance
  • Exclusion practices (i.e. door sweeps)
  • Employee training
  • Pest monitoring and trend analysis
  • Effective communication between facility employees, management and pest professionals regarding pest issues and conducive conditions

This is Pest Control….

  • Deploying pest control equipment
  • Targeted application of pesticides
  • Checking traps for activity or changing bait stations

Of course, even with a proper pest prevention program, pest control will still sometimes be necessary as specific needs arise. When this happens, properly analyzing what led to an infestation can actually help bolster future pest prevention efforts.

If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your commercial facility and can design and deliver effective pest management and food safety programs, give Clark Pest Control a call at (800) 936-3339.