WHO (World Health Organisation) reports that an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years.

What are foodborne illnesses?

Foodborne diseases or illnesses (also referred to as food poisoning) happens when a person gets sick from eating food that has been contaminated. Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers, making foodborne illness a major global health concern (WHO).

Recent widespread foodborne outbreaks have led to consumers questioning food safety standards.  Although food can become contaminated at any point in its production, processing, transportation, or preparation – unsanitary conditions coupled with disease-carrying pests in food production facilities, grocery stores and restaurants are a major threat to food safety.

READ: The Food Industry Under The Spotlight Amidst Listeriosis Outbreak

Pest Management in Food Processing Facilities

The food industry faces many obstacles when it comes to pest management. Food facilities are typically large, complex structures with many locations that are vulnerable to a wide variety of pest infestations.

The main types of pests that are likely to spread foodborne illnesses in these environments include cockroaches, rodents, flies and stored product pests. These pests each require different methods for control and prevention, and it is therefore critical for food facilities understand the threats posed by pests, acknowledge the significant contamination risks and fully recognise the value of being proactive in pest management

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Although not legally enforced in South Africa like in other countries, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system offers critical guidelines that are essential for providing consumers with safe and healthy food products. For a more detailed look into HACCP,  read our article on Cleaning & Disinfection: A Food Safety Checklist.

The Need for Integrated Pest Management

To combat the risk of infestation, a customised Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program should be developed with the help of a licensed pest control company. This program should cover the four components for Food Quality and Safety Assurances:

  • Identification of critical pest entry points in food industry facilities
  • Pest exclusion measures for risk prevention: sanitation measures and regulation of physical conditions
  • Permanent monitoring for risk prediction: identification of infestation locations inside the building, processing equipment and machinery
  • Application of pest control measures: selection of treatments that are safe for food processing facilities

Looking for a more proactive approach to pest control? Contact The Specialists about implementing an Integrated Pest Management program today

References:

Food Safety Magazine, Pests: Everyday Threats to the Human Food Supply

ResearchGate, Food industry practices affecting pest management