Over the last five to ten years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported food safety-related statistics have remained alarmingly consistent in the U.S. There have been over 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually and over 50 million cases of “food poisoning”—clearly unacceptable numbers. Driven by a food safety-conscious culture eager to realize a reduction in foodborne illnesses and deaths, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) represented the most sweeping overhaul of the food safety system since 1938.
In 2015, the impact of FSMA legislation will become evident as adjustments are made and FDA publishes the final rules. For pest management, FSMA emphasizes strategic, risk-based assessment of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, supported by thorough, accurate documentation and consistent corrective-action implementation and management.
Further, FSMA places the food safety responsibility to adhere to a FSMA-compliant IPM program squarely on the food facility’s shoulders. FSMA outlines more authority for the FDA to dictate pest management standards within food manufacturing, implement recalls or invoke fines.
Collaboration between the food facility and pest management service provider is the cornerstone of delivering an effective IPM program that meets FSMA requirements. Without true partnership and a mutual commitment to food safety, it is almost certain that pest management efforts will fail.
Addressing structural and sanitation conditions and promptly correcting pest-conducive behaviors are critical steps in proving an IPM program is working. And, the only way to do that is to document, document, document. Then resolve, resolve, resolve. The old (and admittedly over-used) adage of “the devil is in the details” has never applied more.
Advances in technology have made IPM program documentation and communication easier by using a tablet-based device or smart phone. For instance, with direct links to service data, corrective action can be auto-triggered when pest activity breaches a predetermined threshold. This sets a plan in motion and electronically notifies all stakeholders of the change in status.
More importantly, tools like electronic logbooks enable more advanced, visually driven trending. In addition to enabling pest-activity trending (catches, sightings, and evidence) and condition monitoring, sophisticated mapping tools can be used to identify and track pest pressure “hot spots,” presented in a user-friendly app interface. The best tools illustrate influencing environmental factors with a geo-spatial view overlaying satellite-driven imagery of the surrounding geography.
Finally, one of the most beneficial implications of this technology extends beyond the actual device. Instead, it rests on the shoulders of the professional pest management service provider and the facility manager. Strategic analysis and application of these trends, from mapping to reports, can result in data-driven modifications, improving the program’s results. For example, an analysis of facility trending might suggest an increase in inspection; changes in the quantity or placement of devices; adjustments to service frequency; and/or recommendations for special services to address needs of the site.
Just as the partnership between a pest management provider and facility management is essential to the success of an IPM program, so too is the right combination of the implementation and usage of technology and the analysis and application of the data it provides. The documentation and communication of the “devilish” details build the foundation and, ultimately, impact the success of a pest management program in a food manufacturing facility.