Pro Tip: Controlling the facility environment can defend against pests.

When the FDA Dashboard is sorted for all 21 CFR Part 117 items that are written in Form 483, the requirement for pest control is the most cited issue. The first statement in 177.35(c) reads as follows: “Pests must not be allowed in any area of a food plant.” This is straight forward with no room for error. The dashboard reports this issue as “You did not exclude pests from your food plant to protect against the contamination of food.”

Controlling the environment around the facility site is the first defense against pest entry. This is done by removing harborage, food sources and water accumulations. Also ensure trash containers are covered and emptied frequently.

Maintaining effective barrier controls against pest entry includes providing seals on doors and dock leveler plates. Screens on ventilation structures and air makeup units are also barrier controls. Closing outside doors when not in use is required.

Inspecting inbound materials to reject any containing pest evidence is another control measure. Proper stock rotation prevents the development of stored product insects in static storage.

Cleaning to remove product residues and spillage that can support stored product insects, fruit flies and filth flies is required to prevent these pest issues. Don’t forget to manage the repack and damaged product areas.

Inspecting to identify conditions conducive to pest activity and eliminating them is essential. Make sure everyone in the facility has an avenue to communicate if they see pest activity anywhere inside or outside of the facility. This allows the opportunity to address the issue on a timely basis.

Take this opportunity to determine if you are doing everything that is required to prevent pests in any area of your food plant.

Peg Ray is a senior manager at AIB International.