Dan Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS, Director of Technical Training & Regulatory Services for Terminix Commercial and PMP Columnist, shares some thoughts about food safety and why pest management professionals are stewards of public health.
My name is Dan Baldwin. I’m the director of technical training and regulatory services for Terminix Commercial and I am also a PMP magazine columnist.
Our industry for a long time has known that we’re supposed to be responsible for protecting people. And public health has always kind of been implied in there, but as global regulations change around food safety, we need to be more engaged. And really take a look at how we interact with the food service clients as well as the food processing.
We work in very complex environments and our purpose in what we do, is to make sure that we’re preventing pests from infesting or even being introduced into these establishments where food is being made, produced or served.
Foodborne illness is very real — it’s impactful.
You’ve got, you know, hundreds of thousands of people every year, worldwide, getting sick and thousands of people dying every single year.
The numbers from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) say something like a 128,000 people are hospitalized every year from foodborne illness and 3,000 people die. And that’s just here, in the United States.
So it’s not a scare tactic, it’s not something designed to sell more products, it’s very real. And the pest prevention component of it is not just rodents and cockroaches and making sure they’re not there, but, you know, letting the customers be aware of what’s happening in their restaurants or in the food processing facility: Finding out where those conducive conditions are. Because the same places that they’re going to have issues with rodents and cockroaches, ants, whatever you may be dealing with, are the same places where you’re going to have a nasty bacteria developing, or norovirus sitting in some drain someplace. And then the rodent gets in there and ends up on the food prep table.
So we need to really think about how we interact with our clients and the responsibility that we’re taking on when we say, “Yes, we will service your restaurant” or “we’ll service your food processing plant.” We really cannot be in the habit of just checking the devices that are on the map, and say “Yes, I’ve checked all the bait stations, I’ve checked all the tin cats, checked the monitors. Now I’m done. Please give me your signature.”
We have to be engaged to the point where we’re understanding what’s happening and partner with our clients to make sure that they’re aware of where they may be in jeopardy.
The NPMA (the National Pest Management Association) for a long time, has maintained their food processing guidelines, food processing standards. They’ve now created through the Commercial Committee a set of guidelines for servicing the retail food handling establishments as well. So whether or not it’s a quick service restaurant, full service restaurant, local gas station with a little mini-mart inside of it. There is a really good, detailed outline to show you how you need to engage with these clients, and what you can do to make sure they’re serving food in a pest-free way.