December 21, 2020 / Media Mention / Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery
Pat Hottel, technical director for McCloud, contributes to Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s article, “Pest control best practices for snack and bakery facilities”
Sanitation is crucial for snack and bakery facilities, especially this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legacy facilities must be brought up to code, but there are potential problems lurking in new facilities, as well. Pest control maintenance is also key.
When it comes to new construction projects, Patricia Hottel, BCE, McCloud Services, advises that pest management considerations should start with site selection, as neighboring facilities and the natural environment can impact future pest problems. “For example, you can predict greater pest problems if the building is next to a recycling center, corn field, or marsh, versus plots in a well-manicured business park. If the ideal building site is not available, the facility should institute the appropriate exterior mitigation procedures to keep the pests from entering the facility.”
Once the site is selected, building a facility with cleaning and pest-proofing in mind is critical, says Hottel. “So often, a structure will be built without considering the ability to effectively clean. If something is difficult to clean, it is more likely not to get cleaned or, at the very least, can add to sanitation costs. Facilities should also consider how they will exclude pests and the cost of maintaining a pest-proof facility based on the construction materials used,” she notes.
One common construction material that is difficult to seal and maintain are corrugated walls, Hottel says. “This material damages easily, which can compound the issue. Corrugated ceilings are also difficult to seal and, if not sealed properly, can be extremely difficult to clean. The same is true of suspended ceilings. This type of ceiling provides an undisturbed area for pest development where food particles like flour can accumulate. In planning the layout of the equipment, there should be allowances made so access under and around the equipment for proper cleaning is possible.”
For older facilities, companies should eliminate construction features that might have caused issues in cleaning or sealing whenever possible, says Hottel. “It is important to keep in mind that in some cases it may be better to open up a void if it cannot be effectively sealed. An example is suspended ceilings or rolled insulation over corrugate wall. In the case of rolled insulation, it can be difficult to inspect behind the insulation and it provides an excellent area for rodent harborage,” she notes.
“This type of construction is most often seen in warehouse sections of the plant,” says Hottel. “To repair or replace this issue, drywall over the insulation or remove the insulation to expose the corrugate wall. Suspended ceilings are also an issue when it comes to food processing as it can provide areas for rodents and other pests to hide. In dry processing areas, product dust can sift into the ceiling and support stored product pest. When possible, the ceiling should be removed during renovations.”
Other than facility design, companies should be aware of the other areas pests can be hiding. Some pests can be tied to the sewer system, such as some types of flies and American cockroaches, as they enter facilities from the drains, says Hottel. “Another waste-related system that can be responsible for introducing pests to the property are the dumpsters and feed trailers used for repurposing food if not properly cleaned.”
Hottel recommends that every facility should be on a weekly inspection program with monitors installed to supplement the visual inspections. “There are a variety of monitors, including pheromone monitors, for many stored product pest beetles and moths. There are also insect light traps and glue traps to assist in spotting pest problems. To help measure rodent pressures, rodent monitors are deployed on the exterior and interior of facilities. Lastly, a full assessment of the facility, which looks at both onsite conditions and pest history, should be done initially and at least annually to determine what other preventative measures are needed for that specific facility. This is in addition to the weekly inspections and actions taken in response to those observations.”