This article originally appeared in Food Manufacturing's January/February 2015 print issue.
The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace.
Your pest management efforts may not be fully tested until summer, but late winter, early spring is the perfect time to start building your defense against pests. Exclusion, which is a pillar of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), is a great place to start.
The entrances to your facility are the front lines of your battle against pests, and as such need your attention. New door sweeps and weather stripping can minimize gaps around doors and windows, and automatic doors can ensure your entrances stay closed as much as possible.
You can also work with an HVAC professional to blow pests out the door by making sure positive air pressure is maintained whenever a door is open, with air flowing outside, not inside. To test for positive airflow, hold a piece of paper in a doorway and see which way it blows – the goal is for the paper to blow toward the exit. You can also create an air curtain that pests can’t penetrate by vertically mounting fans on either side of a doorway.
But pests don’t necessarily need a door or window to enter your facility. Survey the exterior of your building, looking for cracks and imperfections. Seal any cracks in your building’s windows, utility penetration points and other openings on roofs and exterior walls with weather-resistant sealant. You can add copper mesh around pipes and drains before sealing to prevent rodents from gnawing through the seal.
While taking a look around the outside of your facility, make sure that no plants, shrubs or tree limbs brush up against the walls, as this gives crawling pests an assist to gain access indoors. If possible, add a 2-foot gravel strip between your bushes and your walls as this deters rodents who use shrubbery to cover their movements around your building.
Take these exclusion steps now, and you’ll be ready when the weather — and pest activity — heats up.
Dr. Zia Siddiqi, Director of Quality Systems, Orkin