Don’t Let Pests Sour the Milk

As you know all too well, a sound sanitation program as part of a best-practices approach to the dairy business benefits your bottom line. Sanitation violations uncovered during a health inspection can result in facility shut-downs that cost the company revenue and long-term negative reputation.

Sanitation practices keep pests from spoiling dairy food operations.

As you know all too well, a sound sanitation program as part of a best-practices approach to the dairy business benefits your bottom line. Sanitation violations uncovered during a health inspection can result in facility shut-downs that cost the company revenue and long-term negative reputation. These sanitation violations are taken seriously because health inspectors know that any lapse in sanitation can mean disease-carrying pests are likely to appear. Fortunately, taking a proactive approach to sanitation and facility maintenance can prevent pests from skimming your profits.

By their very nature, dairy manufacturing facilities face particular challenges in regard to pest management. Many are expansive, aging facilities, and/or operate 24-hours a day. The heat, odor emissions and exterior lighting associated with these facilities also attract pests. Once inside, pests can typically find their essential needs: food, water and shelter.

Pests like cockroaches, flies and rodents can transmit bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus. Rats pose an additional threat to products since they can urinate as much as a gallon of liquid a year. They can produce more than 100 droppings a day, while mice can produce 25 to 50.

With escalating food safety concerns, protect your product – and your profits – from pests by implementing these sanitation and facility maintenance tips. Ask yourself: Got MILK?

M: Maintenance Proactive facility maintenance can be one of the most effective ways to consistently minimize pests’ access to food, water and shelter.

  • Keep equipment in proper working order. Inefficient equipment can lead to leaks that create standing liquids around or underneath equipment. Even tiny amounts of residue on equipment will attract pests. Condensation on cooling equipment can also be a source of moisture in the facility.
  • Maintain other areas where water might accumulate, such as restrooms and water fountains. Vending and ice machines in employee areas should also be monitored.
  • Work with your HVAC professional to maintain positive airflow (air that blows out the building rather than in). This will literally help blow small flying pests out the door.
  • Replace fluorescent light bulbs around the exterior of your facility with sodium vapor bulbs. These are less attractive to flying insects and will deter them from flying near entrance points.


I: Inform Educating employees on their role in sanitation and facility maintenance practices spreads the responsibility beyond management.

  • Have a written sanitation program in place and keep employees trained on sanitation practices.
  • Define employees’ role in sanitation practices by communicating protocol for equipment maintenance, cleaning spills and trash disposal.
  • Consult with a licensed pest control professional to assist you in educating employees about the importance of sanitation practices.

L: Locate

  • Locate “hot spots” around your facility that can attract pests such as storage areas, waste disposal zones and employee break areas. Regularly remove trash from the building, and make sure exterior disposal containers are located well away from the building.
  • Locate entry points. Besides the doors and windows, which should be kept shut when possible, seal cracks and crevices in the building’s exterior with weather-resistant sealant. Mice can enter a building through a hole as small as a dime, and rats can enter through a hole the size of quarter. As a general rule, seal any opening the size of the circumference of a pencil: tiny insects can enter through openings this size or smaller.

K: Keep it Clean

  • Vacuum, sweep, mop and clean surfaces and equipment after use and use an organic disinfectant solution where needed. This will help remove harmful bacteria and pest food sources.
  • Small flies often breed and feed in the grease and grime that builds up in floor drains. Thoroughly scrub drains with an organic cleaner to rid them of debris that could encourage an infestation
  • Keep interior trash receptacles lined and well sealed. Never allow garbage to pile up around the exterior trash receptacles.
  • Work with your waste management company to clean and rotate dumpsters frequently. This will prevent pest-attracting residue from building up.


Don’t wait until pest management becomes a problem. Proactively seek the expertise of a licensed professional to develop a plan for the prevention and treatment of pest problems. With an ongoing IPM program that focuses on facility maintenance and sanitation, you can keep pests from spoiling the MILK.

For more information, contact Dr. Harrison at rharriso@rollins.com.

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