Author’s Note: This article is an expansion of an article I wrote for the Japan Pest Control Association’s magazine, Pest Control.
When discussing the virtues and values of integrated pest management (IPM) at a commercial or industrial facility, I’ve often been asked about how it fits or helps with a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program already in place. To answer this question, let’s look at these two programs separately.
The foundation of HACCP rests on a set of prerequisites — steps that must be in place before the HACCP program can be initiated. Every industry has its own prerequisites, based on different aspects of the business. In the food industry, some general items usually are included. These are all based on current good manufacturing practices (cGMP). According to the FDA, the most common ones include:
- Supplier control. Each facility should ensure that its suppliers have effective cGMP and food safety programs in place. These may be the subject of continuing supplier guarantee and supplier HACCP system verification.
- Specifications. There should be written specifications for all ingredients, products and packaging materials.
- Production equipment. All equipment should be constructed and installed according to sanitary design principles. Preventive maintenance and calibration schedules should be in place.
- Cleaning and sanitation. All procedures for cleaning and sanitation of the equipment should be written and followed. A master sanitation schedule should be in place.
- Personal hygiene. All employees and other persons who enter the manufacturing plant should follow the requirements for personal hygiene.
- Training. All employees should receive documented training in personal hygiene, cGMP, cleaning and sanitation procedures, personal safety, and their roles in the HACCP program.
- Chemical control. Documented procedures must be in place to assure the segregation and proper use of non-food chemicals in the plant. These include cleaning chemicals, fumigants, pesticides and baits used in or around the plant.
- Receiving, storage and shipping. All raw materials and products should be stored under sanitary conditions and the proper environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, to ensure their safety and wholesomeness.
- Traceability and recall. All raw materials and products should be lot-coded and a recall system in place so that rapid and complete traces and recalls can be conducted when a product retrieval is necessary.
- Pest control. An effective pest control program should be in place. The program should include insect and rodent prevention and control procedures as well as a frequency schedule.
The HACCP system and program is relatively young in the food world. It is also an ever-changing system. As new ideas and learning occur, the system will change to keep up. Regardless of the industry, HACCP’s goal is to protect the finished product. HACCP also can have some unique variations based on the product, the plant, and the processes in place within the plant.
One of the critical problems with IPM is understanding what it means. If we asked 100 pest management professionals (PMPs) to define it, we would likely receive about 70 slightly different answers. If the public were asked to define IPM, the definitions would vary even more.
The definition of IPM that I prescribe to is “the use of all available methodologies and management practices to bring about pest prevention and control in a cost-effective, environmentally sound manner.” I think most, if not all, professional practitioners of IPM would agree on the value of pest prevention. If pests have to be controlled in a food plant, the product has potentially already been exposed to risks of contamination. If the pests are prevented from coming in and establishing themselves within the facility, the contamination risk is significantly reduced.
Every living animal requires four things for survival: food, water, proper temperatures and harborage. IPM focuses on the elimination of one or more of these life needs. It is only by knowing and understanding the biology and habits of the pest, however, that we are able to focus in this fashion.
HACCP AND IPM, TOGETHER
As mentioned earlier, one of the HACCP prerequisites is the need for pest control. IPM satisfies that prerequisite. However, IPM goes much further within the HACCP system: When IPM is implemented correctly, focusing on eliminating life essentials, we also help satisfy other parts of the HACCP prerequisites.
Remember, HACCP focuses on the prevention of chemical, biological and physical contaminations in food. Pests and pest control can be the source of all three of these. We all know that pesticides are a potential contaminant, if not applied with care and understanding. It is one of the reasons why only PMPs should be used to carry out pest control programs.
But the preventive focus of IPM also helps the facility by eliminating biological contaminations from insects and other pests. Many pests are adept at carrying and transferring bacterial, viral and fungi organisms to surfaces. For example:
- German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) can carry and transmit more than 50 different disease organisms.
- House flies (Musca domestica) can carry more than 100 different disease organisms.
These two pests are universally known to be able to spread harmful organisms. Of course, many others such as rodents, ants and various stored product pests, also can provide biological contaminations.
Properly trained PMPs also understand the concepts of cGMP. They know how to prevent certain physical contaminations from getting into the system. Understanding the rules regarding the use of hairnets, items in pockets, clothing requirements, etc., helps prevent physical contaminations. They understand the need for proper applications when they are necessary. They understand the relationship between good sanitation, ongoing maintenance and pest populations.
The bottom line? A proper IPM program does not satisfy or replace HACCP. It does, however, complement a HACCP program — and significantly helps commercial and industrial facilities satisfy parts of their prerequisite programs over which they otherwise have very little control.
MEEK is technical services manager for Rollins Inc., Atlanta, Ga. He may be reached at email@example.com.