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More on plant sanitation …
In addition to killing microscopic bacteria, sanitation systems are also designed to eradicate bigger bugs.
Pest control, which encompasses insects as well as rodents, has become a cornerstone of many sanitation programs, with the incorporation of more formal HACCP plans and GMPs. “Integrated pest management, based on those types of principles is very important and that's the direction we should be going in,” says Ron Harrison, director of training for Atlanta-based Orkin Pest Control, noting that for the past decade, maintenance teams at food companies including dairies often have received bonuses based on scores for GMPs and HACCP. “It's a new dynamic and everyone has raised their level of performance.”
The stakes of not incorporating pest control in overall sanitation programs can be high, Harrison says, citing a costly example at a pharmaceutical company. “They found a pest in their production room and had to dispose of a million dollars' worth of product,” he says, noting that for the perishable food industry, the tolerance levels for pests that can impact product safety and integrity is similarly low.
Harrison offers some tips for dairy plants looking to get rid of pests or prevent them from entering their facility:
• Look over incoming items, including raw products and ingredients. “There should be a good inspection of anything coming in,” he suggests, citing a case in which an incoming ingredient shipment was not infested, but the shrink wrap around it was laden with mites.

• Keep a proverbial lid on it. “Once things get in, there should be a process of not leaving products unsealed and using only what you need,” Harrison says.

• Conduct a thorough review of nooks and crannies. “I've been in so many plants,” he says, “and one thing that we find in old plants, when they convert to new products, for example, is that there are little cracks and crevices that you have to go through and assess.”

• Be aware of the unique risks of dairy products. “What we've found is that most pests like some type of moisture,” Harrison says. “So pay attention, if you have a carbohydrates source like milk or whey and moisture there, then you have a chance for infestation. It's one thing to get pests in there, but having them start to breed is a big worry.”
In its stable of pest control product and services, Orkin has added some new offerings, including pheromones that can be put into traps and insect growth regulators that can impede development and breeding of various pests.
Lynn Petrak is a freelance journalist based in the Chicago area.
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