Detailed Pest Control Documentation Leads to A+ Audit Scores

Most quality assurance and plant managers recognize the need for a professional pest management program in settings where food safety is a chief concern and third-party audits are a standard part of doing business. But, reliable pest control service is really only half the battle when it comes to preparing for an audit.

Most quality assurance and plant managers recognize the need for a professional pest management program in settings where food safety is a chief concern and third-party audits are a standard part of doing business. But, reliable pest control service is really only half the battle when it comes to preparing for an audit. The other half is a facility’s – and its pest management company’s – ability to provide thorough, written documentation of all pest management activities since the last audit.

Since evaluation of a facility’s pest control program can count for up to 20 percent of audit scores, better documentation equals better scores. Orkin Quality Assurance Director Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D., and Orkin Technical Director Frank Meek work with food manufacturing clients regularly to help them shore up their pest control documentation. Several commonly asked questions are as follows:

Q: What are the main things auditors look for in terms of pest control practices?

A: “Auditors are primarily concerned with seeing a written comprehensive pest management program, accurate and up-to-date copies of the service records, and labels and material safety data sheets,” said Siddiqi.

Q: Can you walk me through what an ideal service record looks like?

A: “For starters, we need to define a service record. During every visit, the technician should fill out a detailed report of what he did at your facility. Ideally, your service record should include what pests were found, why these pests were found and what has to be done to eliminate them. For any product used at your facility, the service record should document the name of the product, the quantity applied, the method of application, the type of equipment used and the site of application,” said Siddiqi. “These records also need to clarify whether the treatment is performed on a proactive or reactive basis. In other words, is the technician treating an existing problem or taking preventative measures to treat a new one?”

“Your service records also need to show that the products used match up with the target pests. Here’s what shouldn’t be on your record – your technician is treating a cockroach problem, but the record shows that he applied a product designed to treat rodents on your grounds. This automatically sends up a red flag to the auditor,” said Meek.

Q: What specifically does an auditor look for when reading a product label?

A: “All labels must contain the product registration and establishment numbers as assigned by the Environmental Protection Agency. The registration number is of the utmost importance because anytime a chemical company goes through a major change – such as a merger or acquisition – the registration number may change as well. While these occurrences are pretty rare, labels with out-of-date registration numbers can be costly errors in pest management audits,” said Meek.

Q: Keeping track of all of this information seems like a lot of work. Are food manufacturers equipped to handle this kind of documentation?

A: “Managing this high level of documentation can come across as an arduous task, but it doesn’t have to be. It is helpful if pest control professionals provide customers with a streamlined logbook with all the necessary documentation for audit. After every visit, the technician meets with the customer and goes over the information recorded in the book. The technician then leaves a copy of the logbook with the customer so they or their auditors can reference it at any time,” said Siddiqi.

“Professionals can also use hand-held electronic data capture and reporting applications as a new method of documentation. By capturing information on pest activity in real time, this technology aids technicians and customers analyze pest data faster, seeing trends more quickly and recognizing potential problems before they happen,” said Meek.
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