Managers of a food processing or storage facility, know that stored product pests can be a serious problem. These pests are known for infesting commercial products and their larvae eat the product as they grow.
A stored product pest infestation can result in product contamination and failed sanitation audits. They can also result in lost production time, lost sales and brand damage. An infestation can also result in unbudgeted expenses to replace spoiled products, clean and sanitize equipment and have additional pest management services performed.
“It is important to never let your guard down when it comes to stored product pests,” says Blair Smith, corporate manager of QA and technical development for Clark Pest Control. “The threat is consistent and can come from multiple sources.”
Spatial Mapping and Stored Product Pests
A successful stored product pest prevention and management program is a multi-tiered process. It includes a thorough facility assessment, pheromone monitoring, sanitation and spatial mapping.
“Spatial mapping is one of the tools we deploy to decipher what is going on at facility when it comes to stored product pests,” says Smith. “When combined with positive pest identification, inspections, sanitation and proper inventory protocols it provides clients with a comprehensive program.”
Spatial mapping takes the data and historic trend information collected by technicians and incorporates into a site map. The map provides pest management professionals and clients with a bird’s eye view of pest activity at a facility.
Smith says spatial mapping offers a wealth of information including identifying pest ‘hot spot’ areas and if conducive conditions are present that are triggering the activity.
“A spike in pest activity in a specific area of a facility will point pest control professionals in the right direction,” says Smith. “It allows them to zero in on the root cause(s) of the infestation and guide them on what action is needed to correct the issue in the short and long term.”
Spatial Mapping in Action
Stored product pests typically burrow their way into ingredients and products via shipments in various stages of the supply chain process. A similar situation took place in a nut processing facility that was experiencing increased Indian meal moth activity.
The facility had quarterly assessments done, including spatial mapping, and had established pest activity thresholds. During one of the assessments the data revealed a spike in pest activity breaking the preset threshold.
After talking with the client about any changes to the facility’s operation, it was learned they had recently switched suppliers for one of the many ingredients the facility receives daily. They reviewed the tracking lot numbers and were able to pinpoint the infested pallets which came from the new supplier.
Smith says this example reinforces the importance of looking down the supply chain and verifying that your suppliers commitment to pest management meets your standards. It also supports the necessity for food processing plants to conduct more rigorous inspections of incoming shipments and have isolation areas where ingredients can be stored if there is any doubt about it being infested.
In this instance, the client was very engaged in the process and had established strong inventory and isolation protocols that helped mitigate the issue. Clark provided additional training for the facility’s staff on proper inspection techniques for incoming shipments.
Tips To Prevent Stored Product Pests
With an appetite for rice, flour, cereal, dry pasta, breads, tobacco, grains, pet food, birdseed, dried fruits and chocolate, stored product pests are a potentially costly and unwelcome visitor in food processing and storage facilities.
Facility and QA managers can take the following steps to head off problems with stored product pests:
- Carefully inspect incoming shipments for signs of pest activity. Torn packaging or broken seals can provide pests with access to food products during shipment.
- Keep storage areas dry as moisture increases the likelihood of infestations. Store sacks of grain, flour and other food products off the floor.
- When storing or moving food products within the facility, used storage containers that can be sealed to deny pests access.
- Observe the first-in, first-out rule of inventory. Rotate products frequently, and do not store food products, especially those in paper or cardboard containers, for extended periods of time.
- Do not mix old and new food products. If the old product is infested, the insects will be transferred immediately to the non-infested product.
- Establish an isolation storage room for product that is suspected of being infested.
- Stored product pests can be small and hard to see and can hang on in empty containers. A thorough deep cleaning of mixing, storage or transportation equipment should be done before the equipment is reused.
- Practice good sanitation in your facility. Clean up spilled food and eliminate conditions that pests find attractive.
- If an infestation is found, immediately discard the infested food and check surrounding food products for cross-contamination.
If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your business and can help your company create a pest-free environment inside and out, give Clark Pest Control a call at (800) 936-3339.