As a food business operator it is important for you to have a proper pest control system in place as pests can be a serious health hazard for consumers. They can also cause you monetary loss as they damage property and food products leading to waste. Rodents are pests that not only contaminate food but can also damage wiring, containers, furniture and structure inside food establishments or factories. The presence of pests can cause you to lose consumer confidence in your food product or food establishment.
Foods can easily be contaminated as pests are carriers of microorganisms and viruses that pose as a serious health risk for the consumer. Some common pests are rats, mice, cockroaches, flies, ants, lizards and birds. Some other pests found in stored food products are larder beetles, weevils and flour moths. Pests can also contaminate food with hair, droppings, urine, eggs food may even be contaminated with pest dead bodies.
Pests are attracted to food establishments as these premises provide an ideal habitat for them where food and shelter are available which allows them to live and reproduce. Therefore it is important to control pests or it will lead to more infestation of raw material as well as finished food product which further leads to waste besides causing immense health risks for the consumer.
As one of the requirements of the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing & Registration) Regulations, 2011, Schedule 4, all food establishments must have an effective pest control system in place.
An effective and continuous pest control programme will prevent insects, birds, rodents or other vermin infesting the surrounding areas of your food establishment. Your staff should always be on the lookout for evidence of infestation like alive or dead pests, pest droppings, smell, wall discolouration, smear marks, cobwebs, damaged packaging or piled up debris, holes in fabrication, ceiling or walls and they should immediately report any such finding.
In case your meat processing unit is infested then the unit has to be treated with physical or chemical or biological agents. This is a high risk task and can only be undertaken by or under direct supervision of personnel who have a thorough understanding of the potential hazardous to health resulting from the use of these agents, including those which may arise from residues retained in the product. Infestation measure should therefore be carried out according to the recommendation of an official agency and one that has such jurisdiction and the inspector of such an agency should be fully aware that treatment is being carried out.
Some points to remember
• Precaution should also be taken in the use of pesticides and they should be used only if all other pest control measures have failed.
• Only those pesticides should be used that are recommended for use in a meat processing plant.
• The person using the pesticide should be of competent authority.
• Care has to be taken to prevent any pesticide contamination of the meat and equipment.
• All utensils should be thoroughly washed before they are brought into use again.