Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an essential part of any food facility’s efforts to ensure consumers receive safe, high-quality products.

This blog will discuss why Integrated Pest Management is important, as well as how creating an IPM plan help manufacturers, processors, and other food companies protect their products and brand.

Why is Pest Control Important in Food Safety Plans?

Pests are drawn to food, whether in the field, processing plant, or storage facility. An ongoing or extensive pest presence often indicates a more significant problem, such as a sanitation issue or an overall lack of awareness of what is affecting food safety at a facility.

Pests can introduce and spread pathogens to ingredients and finished products, as well as on food processing equipment and other food contact surfaces.

When minor pest issues are not dealt with through an IPM program, they are likely to become something federal or state regulators will notice when inspecting your facility. That can lead to enforcement actions and follow-up inspections that halt or limit production as you track down the root cause of an infestation.

The Food and Drug Administration’s rules concerning pests fall mostly in Part 117 of Title 21 (Food and Drugs) of the Code of Federal Regulations. Part 117 covers Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Before a company develops an IPM program to address the needs of its facility and products, it’s essential to understand precisely what IPM is and isn’t.

IPM plans contain several elements related to food safety, addressing sanitation and environmental factors. While live pests must be dealt with, an IPM plan doesn’t focus solely on eradicating them – it looks for ways to keep pests from entering the facility in the first place. In doing so, IPM looks at factors inside and outside food facilities.

IPM effectively manages the ecosystem over the long term to ensure pest control, rather than periodically introducing pesticides regardless of the number of pests present at any given time, according to the IPM Institute of North America.

Elements of a Successful IPM Plan

Integrated Pest Management tools and plans vary from company to company, and even at different facilities managed by a company. These are based on everything from climate, ingredients and finished products, and conditions inside and outside the facility that could attract various pests.

There are, however, key elements to IPM plans at the food facility level, including:

Prevention

  • A successful IPM plan figures out how, where and when pests are entering facilities. Manufacturers must eliminate the conditions that attract pests instead of reacting to an infestation.

Monitoring

  • Relying on a few traps or casual visual inspection is not enough. Facilities need to evaluate sanitation processes, install a variety of traps to catch rodents and insects and maintain action thresholds that designate specific actions when a certain number of pests are detected.

Inspections

  • Routine in-house inspections will expose pest problems before you have a regulatory inspection. Different company divisions should assess potential problem areas and enact follow-up inspections if regular checks uncover concerns.

Education & Communication

  • With increasing federal food safety regulations from the Food and Drug Administration and changing Environmental Protection Agency rules on pesticides and other chemicals, more companies are contracting with pest control companies. Employees aren’t off the hook, however, as everyone plays a part in preventing pests.

ImEPIK’s Comprehensive Food Safety Training Solutions

Companies adopting Integrated Pest Management plans can learn how to avoid pest issues with ImEPIK’s interactive food safety training course. PCQI Online is a 100% online self-paced course that contains the FDA’s mandated curriculum. The course also includes several real-life production scenarios and support materials, including a downloadable manual.

Contact ImEPIK to learn more about PCQI Online and how it can help you adopt sustainable pest control programs and practices.

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