Bug Off!
by Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
Dairy processors can win the battle against pests with high-quality sanitation, inspection and documentation.

A dairy processing plant looks like a Club Med location to pests. Add easy access, food, water and shelter to the list of pest “amenities,” and these guys won’t want to leave.
“While no facility wants to admit to having pest issues, the introduction of pests is sometimes viewed as a simple fact of working in the food business,” says Eric Eicher, president and chief operating officer, Pest Prevention Division of The Steritech Group Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Keeping pests out of a facility is critical, says Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., quality-assurance director at Atlanta-based Orkin Inc. “Pests are more of a problem in the warmer months, but if the plant is in a place like Georgia or Florida, then it’s a problem year-round. If you’re in a place like Nebraska or Iowa, then your problems are less from October through March. But if you have a population of flies that got in the plant, where it’s always kept at 75 degrees and 50 percent humidity, then the flies are having fun, and they don’t have to go outside in the cold winter.”
To some extent, pest problems are dependent on the facility, Eicher says. Many factors can play into the success of a pest-prevention program, such as structural condition of buildings, thoroughness of sanitation efforts, environmental pressures, regularity of service and management’s buy-in to the importance of pest prevention.
Eicher says processors and pest-management providers must work closely on structural, storage and sanitation issues. “Of course, even the most well-protected plants will experience the occasional pest sighting,” Eicher says. “The key is to have the tools in place to stop these occasional stray pests from ever becoming a problem. Beyond preventive maintenance, a solid pest-management program should attempt to anticipate problems and stop at nothing to solve them.”
“Sanitation, sanitation and sanitation” are the best ways to prevent pests in sensitive environments such as a dairy plant, says James Sargent, Ph.D., director of technical support and regulatory compliance at Copesan, Menomonee Falls, Wis. “Sometimes individuals differ in their understanding of sanitation. However, there needs to be ‘better’ sanitation if pests are a chronic problem. Sanitation means reducing pest attractants like food and water and pest breeding sites, even in hidden areas.”
Shonda Talerico Dudlicek is a freelance journalist and a former managing editor of Dairy Field.

Prevention and Management
Pests and dairy products don’t mix. Unfortunately, pests don’t think this way — the promise of food, water and shelter makes a dairy processing plant a very attractive home.  
To help prevent and manage infestations, dairy processors must be sure their plants’ pest-management program follows Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles, says Zia Siddiqi, quality assurance director for Atlanta-based Orkin Inc. IPM emphasizes non-chemical techniques like sanitation and maintenance before chemical treatments are even considered. These basic IPM tips should be incorporated into existing pest-control efforts:
Clean, clean and clean — Pests follow food and water sources, and a dairy has both. An effective sanitation program is one of the best ways to keep cockroaches, flies, rodents and other pests out.  
Keep pests outside — Monitor the exterior of the building for cracks and crevices that could be acting as entry points for pests and seal all unnecessary openings with sealant. Make sure doors and windows close tightly, too.
Work together — Involve all your employees in the IPM program by asking them to immediately clean up any spills and report pest sightings. Open communication with your pest management professional is essential for success.
“With an ongoing IPM program, you can ensure that pests will find another place to call home,” Siddiqi says.