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RIM Explains the Importance of Exclusion Strategies

Effective pest management is undeniably an important element and often the most challenging areas in manufacturing sectors, especially in the food processing industries. According to a study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in Asia alone, pest caused an estimated loss of US$57.6 billion annually in food production. Besides financial losses, pest infestations may also lead to food recalls, which will consequently tarnish a company’s reputation. That is why, businesses are striving to minimise pest infestations in their production plant yearly.

Traditionally, pest control programmes rely on monitoring and applications of insecticides, rodenticides and the use of traps and baiting systems. These methods may not be effective without a fundamental knowledge of the biological and behavioural studies of pests and their vulnerabilities. Hence, in today’s efforts to sustain a greener environment, most businesses have chosen to employ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme which is a more holistic and eco-friendly form of commercial pest control.

What is Pest Exclusion?

One of the main approaches in IPM is pest exclusion, which is a proactive strategy that involves sealing up potential pest entry points to ultimately prohibit pest from entering the premises. There are many ways for pests to penetrate into the food processing facilities; some through small gaps and cracks on walls that are not noticeable to human eyes, therefore eliminating pest entrances is a highly effective way of keeping pests out of the premises.

Examples of pest exclusion practices and recommendations

Internal areas

  • Eliminate gaps or cracks on building’s foundation and structures as holes in the walls and windows made it an ideal doorway for small and pesky pests, such as cockroaches and ants.
  • Drains, conveyors, pipes, cable or ducts that pass between buildings through walls or foundations should be sealed properly to prevent the spread of any infestation from one building to another, especially agile pest like rats.
  • Ensure that doors, windows and ventilation systems are properly installed with a tight fit. Pest problems can arise when doors or windows are hung unevenly. Rats often find easy access to buildings through poor fitting open doors, particularly in receiving areas and storage areas.
  • Pest penetration can happen when pest such as stored product insects are brought in through the packaging, that is why, incoming materials have to be closely inspected upon arrival at food plants to make sure that there are no infestations in the products before being accepted.
  • Pest can also easily fly into premises and to minimise this, strip curtains should be installed in loading docks and food processing area to avoid flies and other flying insects from entering the building. This is a very important component in the food manufacturing industry where strict environmental and health regulations are applied.

External areas

  • Trim tree branches that touch external building surfaces regularly because it serves as a trail for crawling pests like ants to intrude the internal building.
  • Bird invasion can turn into a serious issue because inadequate control can lead to heavy infestation and possibly serious consequences to consumer’s health due to contaminated goods. Therefore, it is vital that all birds are excluded from all production and storage areas. To accomplish this, all openings in the eaves of the roof must be identified and properly screened so that they are free from bird nesting. Additionally, bird proofing methods such as spikes and nettings can be installed to prevent birds from roosting.
  • Waste disposal bins must be closed with tight fitting lids at all times and rubbish removal must be done on a daily basis so that it doesn’t pile up and emit foul smell that may attract flies to the facilities.

The implementation of pest exclusion plan can be a huge effort, especially for a large production facility, but it is achievable with the support of a professional pest controller that has extensive pest knowledge. They will have the understanding of pest behaviours to help in identifying the correct methods to control them. It is also equally important to work with experts that understand the phases of supply chain management as this will enable them to provide effective recommendation to execute proficient integrated pest management strategies.

“Pests such as rats and cockroaches can senselessly transmit harmful pathogens and compromise the food production line. The presence of innocuous pests can also contribute to a perception of unsanitary environment which will ultimately lead to audit failures and business losses. Which is why, pest exclusion is an important aspect in protecting the business and reputation of a food production facility.” said Carol Lam, the Managing Director of Rentokil Initial Malaysia.


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