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MISCONCEPTIONS OF HACCP AND PEST CONTROL

Article from Thor's Thunder - News and Views from Ensystex - Issue Seven

There’s much industry confusion about pest control and HACCP. Stories on HACCP and pest control are frustrating as we observe companies supplying misinformation for the sole purposes of income generation and blatant self-promotion.

There are many fabrications and misrepresentations occurring, so here’s a rundown on what not to believe.

  HACCP Food Safety 
  • Many companies are marketing ‘HACCP-compliant’ pest control methods and equipment, with some gullible food manufacturers even convinced that their operations are HACCP compliant once they install insect light traps or sticky boards with this tag. Crazy, naive, idiotic, but true. This is false advertising.
  • There’s widespread belief that rodent baits, bait stations and other equipment have to be HACCP approved. This is simply not true.
  • That food companies should only deal with pest control companies who themselves are HACCP certified. This is nonsense.
  • That pest control is part of a HACCP programme. No, it isn’t! Don’t be surprised by this point. Let me clarify: pest control is a basic part of any food safety management system, but it is not part of HACCP; it is actually one of several pre-requisite programmes that form the foundation of HACCP, along with preventative maintenance, personnel hygiene, cleaning practices and good manufacturing practices. Pest control is not a CCP (critical control point) and if it’s classed as one, then both it and the HACCP programme should be reviewed.

Minimum standards

Preventing problems from occurring is the paramount goal underlying any HACCP system. Seven basic principles are employed in the development of HACCP plans that meet the stated goal. These principles include hazard analysis, Critical Control Point identification, establishing critical limits, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification procedures, and record-keeping and documentation. Under such systems, if a deviation occurs indicating that control has been lost, the deviation is detected and appropriate steps are taken to re-establish control in a timely manner to assure that potentially hazardous products do not reach the consumer.

As safety concerns and HACCP compliance certification have become a top priority for the global food industry, expectations of the efficiency of pest control programmes have also increased. It is up to pest control companies themselves to set minimum standards of pest control in the food industry. HACCP itself is a systematic, preventive approach to food safety. It is not a legislated approach with HACCP approval systems. It is only concerned with food safety. It is simply an approach for addressing physical, chemical and biological hazards, with the emphasis on prevention rather than finished product inspection.

Pest control can only become a critical control point if it is risking the food! This of course should never occur.

Establishing Safer Methods

Cardboard and/or open bait stations are something of the past! Rodenticides must be placed in tamper-resistant, heavy duty plastic bait stations. The bait and station should also be anchored, numbered and marked on a schematic diagram. Their placement, too, must reduce the possibility of rodents entering from outside. The use of toxic bait inside a factory is not acceptable. Many types of bait stations are available and while they may look like just a box with two holes, a huge amount of research has gone into them and is ongoing to create the ‘perfect’ bait station. The key point here is that there is no official system for certifying a station for HACCP.

Monitoring Systems

Years ago insecticidal sprays were applied haphazardly and served little purpose. Today the application of pesticides is frequently limited to areas verified by pheromone traps. If a pesticide has to be used, confirmation that it’s approved by the APVMA is critical, and that a current MSDS is held. Some manufacturers will require additional approval under AQIS if the product is to be used in an Export Meat Plant.

Insect light traps are also used to establish population levels. These monitoring devices must be maintained and cleared regularly so as to ensure the unit is always working optimally. Placement, too, is vital to ensure the unit attracts insects to its full potential.

Reporting

Data generated by pest control operators can be used to fine-tune any food safety programme and it should be documented on a spread sheet for easy interpretation. For instance, information from insect traps can determine whether the facility’s closed-door policy is adhered to by night-shift staff. Rodent activity trends can establish if an infestation originated from a supplier or from a resident population, with stock control documentation used to cross reference the dates of product arrival and the rodent activity. Further, the logging of chemicals would be helpful during any legal disputes over residues.

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