Al Shieshakly: maintaining long-term business relationships

Al Shieshakly: maintaining long-term business relationships

IPM: a priority in packaging

The most successful integrated pest management (IPM) plan is a result of both the pest controller and the facility manager combining their expert knowledge, says Mirza Waqar Ahmad, entomologist, Masa Establishment

May 2017

In the world of food processing and packaging, the facility administrators usually have to abide by a lengthy list of standards that must be carried out and pest management is just one part of it. However, if one is aware of the health dangers posed by insects, then pest management will be demanded as a priority in food packaging facilities.

Masa Establishment for pest extermination, maintenance, and contracting, a Saudi company established 37 years ago, emphasises the importance to food processing companies to meet the standards set forth by the regulating agencies. Proper pest management allows companies to avoid unnecessary fines or closure of plants due to failed inspections.

A number of insect pests are known to carry disease-causing pathogens to packaged food through their leftover faeces and saliva. The true danger is depicted by two of the most common food handling pests.

First, the filth or garbage flies have been recognised to spread as high as 65 kinds of human-related diseases such as Escherichia coli (E Coli), Staphylococcus, and numerous types of food poisoning.

Masa specialists’ team at a food exhibition in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia

Masa specialists’ team at a food exhibition in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia

Second, the cockroaches are estimated among the most problematic insects to control. These are known to spread no less than 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and seven other human pathogens as per the pestworld.org.

The risks of calamities can be tremendously damaging to an individual food processor and to the food manufacturing and packaging industry to a greater extent. If proper control measures are not taken, these pests can start feeding inside the product packs, putting a company’s quality status at risk.

The food processing and packaging industry is governed by a number of regulating bodies in Saudi Arabia. The packaging standards are set by Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO), which are of international standards and the executive department for local markets control, registration and licensing is Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA). In addition to inspections by the government entities, food processors and packagers are also regulated by the third-party auditors such as American Institute of Baking (AIB, USA) that ensure the quality maintenance in food processing industry. Audit programmes may differ, but most include inspections of a food manufacturer’s sanitation programme, food safety, good manufacturing practices, food defense and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Detailed inspection of entry areas that are usually locked or restricted is also important because these areas have the favourable conditions for pest infestations. It is a must to hire the services of a pest management professional (PMP) to ensure that a processing and packaging facility is meeting the regulatory specifications. Whether from in-house staff or contracted, the pest management professional should be an integrated member of the food safety team.

Masa Establishment, under the leadership of Mousaied S Al Shieshakly, advises and trains its pest controllers to be absolutely aware of the latest pest control products and application procedures to propose the best pest management programme to a facility. The production or regulatory changes can also greatly affect a pest management programme, making it essential that facility managers know about these changes and effectively communicate them to the pest professionals.

The most commonly occurring pests in food processing and packaging could be following:

Flies: This major category may include house flies, garbage flies, and filth Flies. The flying insects feed on anything. The worse scenario is that these flies feed by vomiting their saliva and stomach substances onto their intended meal then devour the former substances and newly dissolved food.

Masa pest control technicians: ready to accept challenges

Masa pest control technicians: ready to accept challenges

Stored product pests: This type comprises of a number of different kinds of beetles, weevils, moths, and mites and also rodents, feeding on the food sources such as grains, flour, cereals, oats, dried seeds and fruits, rice, sugar, chocolate, and others. All stored product pests have the capability to damage food products during feeding and also dirtying food by their body parts and cast skins. Mostly stored product pests get into grocery outlets and residential homes through infested flour and grains.

Cockroaches: Among the cockroach pest species; German, American, Asian and Oriental cockroaches are the most common in the region. These are true omnivores and are attracted to eat almost anything available to them. Because of their omnivorous nature and spiky legs, cockroaches have the tendency to pick up germs and debris on their legs while crawling through sewage, then transfer that matter to food before or during packaging.

Ants: This group includes a number of indigenous ants which mainly feed on processed foods, sugar, syrup, fruit juice, meat, eggs, oil and fat, dry pet food, dairy products and grease. As far as food safety is concerned, these ants may contaminate food by accidentally being processed into the food products.

Masa Establishment believes that even the most rigorous inspection and maintenance protocols are at times not enough to keep insects from infesting a facility. Scientific developments in professional pest management are bringing new products to the marketplace that can be used to supplement any pest control programme. Although Masa’s pest control specialists serve as expert consultants when it comes to diagnosing a pest infestation and prescribing a treatment plan, but it is equally important for a facility manager to have a basic understanding of the pest control procedures and products.

Undetectable liquids or odourless pesticides are some of the modern solutions accessible to the food handling industry. These pesticides can be applied as crack, crevice or spot treatments inside and outside the facility. As the treatment is unnoticeable to the insects, so pests naively contact or consume the active ingredient and may also share it with other pests living in their colony. These pests may be affected without coming into direct contact with the pesticide.

Dust formulations consist of a fine powder pesticide that is applied to cracks, crevices, or wall voids because the insecticide can easily penetrate these hollow spaces. The other types of practicable pest control formulations used in food processing and packaging include: foams, baits, aerosol, and fumigant insecticides.

An IPM is a comprehensive approach to solving pest problems. In place of simply trying to eliminate a pest, an IPM approach deliberates all the information, accounts for multiple objectives, and considers all available preventive and curative options. Nevertheless, in overall terms the goal of IPM is to provide a safe, effective, and economical outcome.

In the IPM approach, a pest management professional must first identify the pest and understand its biology and the environment in which it exists. Then the Masa personnel can monitor for the pest and implement other natural controls including removing the pest’s food and water sources. After establishing natural controls, an appropriate management strategy can be developed and implemented.

The most successful IPM plan is a result of both the pest controller and the facility manager combining their expert knowledge and respecting the end-goal of food safety. It also requires their cooperation in meeting the challenges to achieving success.

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