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Creating Synergies with Pest Experts

Report on Saravana Dairy Foods & CavinKare Dairy Division, Chennai

Pest management in food processing units is vital due to the hazards that can be caused by different pests. Also due to the high demand for sanitation and the third party audits, pest control becomes an inevitable parameter for the processing units. It also influences the brand image of the companies, especially in food processing and pharma which are high dependency sectors in terms of pest management.

The type of pests varies from industry to industry. Food and pharma industries generally face rodents, flies and roaches infestation. The kind of damage done by each pest to the product too is variable. Rats urinate and leave faecal matter on the food stuff. With their sharp teeth they cut the food storage material, wiring and plumbing. Roaches that typically thrive in tropical climate like India are innumerable in the variety of species. They regurgitate food, leave back droppings and a signature smell in the stuff they attack. Flies and ants, commonly known as nuisance pests come in parades, are embodiments of disease-causing germs that they carry in every part of the body.

In addition to these common pests found in processing areas, there are also specific varieties of pests found in storage areas. They are considered most hazardous as they feed on the food stuff, breed and multiply in them.

In general, there are some basic rules that have to be followed to maintain hygiene in food manufacturing, processing and packaging facilities. The rules laid down by organisations like HACCP and ISO insist on following certain codes of hygiene for food handlers and other staff in the unit. Moreover, the basic layout, design and construction of the food premises should necessarily be made safe to block entry of pests.

Effective pest management needs a combination of practical well-planned agenda and application. Leo Santosh. S, Service Manager, Rentokil Initial, company that has made a mark in food, pharma, IT, ITES industries and residences, says, “Rentokil has an Integrated Pest Management approach for the food processing units, tailored with a sector specific Service Delivery Specifications (SDS). Our IPM strategy, emphasis on Exclusion, Restriction, Destruction & Monitoring. Our treatments methods and reporting formats are in line with the audits of AIB, BRC, HACCP & all FSMS audits.

“Our process always starts with an initial survey (Site Risk Assessment – SRA) by the Sales team. We investigate the site surroundings and neighbourhood conditions; make a calculation with the parameters like building integrity, neighbouring environments, pest history, site sanitation, figure out the consequences of pests and the risk associated for a better understanding of the customer’s requirement. Our pest control plan is based on this type of initial surveys and based on the outcome of the SRA, sales team submits the proposal along with the pest control plan. It includes the treatment procedures, method of application, list of pesticides, their Safety Data sheets, equipment used and also the IPM procedures,” he adds.

B Yogendar Rao, Deputy Manager-Production, CavinKare, Dairy Division, Chennai, explains, “Hygiene practises are compulsory and form an integral part of our manufacturing practises. For effective results, we have suitably categorised and worked out contracts for the cleaning and maintenance of different areas. Accordingly outside areas come under the Rentokil Initial pest management team and the cleaning of internal floor areas are the responsibility of the housekeeping team. The floor area is cleaned two to three times a day. We have a dedicated staff to clean the windows, tables, counter-tops and dust bins. The frequency depends on the working area. The cleaning staff wears caps and sanitizes their hands. We have air and strip curtains to avoid fly movement. We also check the waste water movement and spider cob-webs every quarter.”

The Dairy Division, a manufacturing, packaging and storage facility, operates on three shifts with 250-300 people working round the clock. Leo Santosh elaborates on Rentokil Initial’s role in the CavinKare premises. “At CavinKare, we encounter flies and lizards. For flies, we do larva control by spraying in sludges and also install bait applications to catch them. In addition, we also clean up the pesto flash installed in the factory. We spray on the lizards. As the surface gets slippery, they fall down and are caught in the catchers. For rodents we use the three line defence mechanism executed by Rentokil.

At the first line, baits are positioned at the internal perimeter of the compound wall, second line defence would be another row of baits adjacent to the external perimeter of the building and the third, involves the use of trapping mechanism with glue pads, cages which is in the interior areas of the buildings. Rentokil also identifies the rodent entry points and advises the customer to close the same, which will restrict the entry of rodents. The “rodent expert team”, are trained to identify pest entry points and do rodent proofing.

Root cause for pests

The changing climatic conditions are the major facilitator for pests. From September to November there is a lot of cockroach movement in the sites. From November to early March mosquitoes start coming in and from April, flies swarm the area. Leo Santosh stresses the need for arriving at common agenda for pest control.

In terms of cockroaches, Rentokil uses a chemical flush spraying in locations where the level of infestation is very high. “Before and after every treatment, we monitor the roach population and the monitoring results decide the next course of action. The subsequent treatments can be spot application of insecticides or using cockroach baits. The cockroach bait not only kills the cockroaches that consume poison, but also kills the hiding ones by cascading the poison due to the Coprophagous and cannibalistic characteristics of the roaches. We also fix monitoring trap, to monitor the infestation in high-risk areas. We make use of monitoring device with a glue pad and a lure that attracts cockroaches. It attracts the die-hard roaches.

“At high infestation areas, we leave them at 15-40cm from their inhabitation points. If there are more than two then we dot the place with ice-pick points of gel. In case of mosquitoes, we aim at larva control and adult control. We attack the water-stagnated areas and drainage blocks which are their breeding areas. External control involves fogging and misting the entire area. Adult mosquitoes are effectively killed by this. In misting we dispense the area with chemicals and cover the greeneries. The mosquitoes are knocked down by the effect of the insecticides on them.”

The frequency of the treatment depends on a variety of factors like building integrity, pest history, consequences of pest infestations and the risk associated.

Rentokil’s technical team consisting of field biologists, who will monitor the treatment process, do subsequent inspections, audits for facilitating the service effectiveness. It also does quality assurance audits to ensure the client that the agreed treatment plan is executed and the customer is benefitted out of the process.

Possible carriers

Majorly the pests get carried to the food premises through the cartons in which raw materials are stored or transported, food storage areas where there is a possibility of clutter and chaos, at the entry points where loading, unloading and food spillage takes place.

Kumara Swamy, Plant Manager, Saravana Dairy Foods, Chennai, says, “As far as our facility is concerned, we produce according to the need. As we are a dairy-oriented industry, the waste turns out to be spoilt milk and we immediately dispose it off. It is not left to rot or invite bacterial or pest in the premises. Also we have a perfectly arranged storage area where we stack the processed food stuff. It is aptly sized and custom-made for the purpose.”

Adds Santosh, “In Saravana dairy, it is weekly once for roaches, twice for rodents which after a three-month close monitoring the frequency will be changed once the infestations are under thresholds. The monitoring devices are checked once in a week. Rentokil’s supervisor undertakes a site check once in a week. The field biologist conducts quality audits once in every three months. Rentokil’s restriction method closely watches the cracks, crevices and arrests any inhabitation.”

“We restrict the chances of pests to breed and multiply. We continue monitoring the infestation levels and point out high-risk areas. We also take our global expertise advice from other countries, if required since we are specialized in HD segments.”

Saravana Dairy’s pest prevention at the external level is perfect. The building does not have any cracks or crevices, windows are netted, drainages have active filters and are block-free, entry points are sealed with silicone gel and baits, traps are fixed in the false ceiling. Moreover, says Kumara Swamy, “Proper cleaning takes place in the plant. The steam cleaning of storage areas, vessels and racks controls the pests effectively. The warehouse storage area is cleaned everyday. Deep cleaning is done once in 15 days.”

Pest awareness and training

Pest management has to be a continuous and consistent process. Says Yogendar Rao, “We have stringent internal audits; pest management tops the checklist. Moreover, we also have corporate R&D and central QA visits that ensure effectiveness of processes. However educating the casual labourers is a tough task . They are trained to follow and intimate sightings and trained to be careful so as to ensure safety of food.”

Rentokil also has rigorous training programme for the newly joined technicians. They go through a six week induction process. During the course of the training, the new technicians will be accompanied by a senior technician and they go for field applications. At the end of six months, all the technicians will go through TPA (Technical Performance Assessment) which evaluates their potential and understanding of processes. Once evaluated and found ready, they are internally certified.

“Though the facilities are subject to food inspectors’ scrutiny, pest management is the least important problem addressed and first to pop out of the agenda in the organisation’s cost-cutting exercise. We hope the much-awaited Food Safety Act will change perspectives,” opines Leo Santosh.

But Rentokil Initial continues doing its own bit in spreading the awareness. “We organise training at the clients’ premises. We aim to educate the end-users, housekeeping staff and vendors. A 45-minute programme is being conducted at the food consumption areas to highlight the infestation effects and how their conscious involvement goes a long way in managing pests and keeping the premises clean.

“We use environmental friendly chemicals which follows the guidelines formulated by World Health Organizations. We also

differentiate ourselves by having sector based high dependency technicians and conduct pest awareness program as a value added service to our food processing clients with a view to improve the service effectiveness and to gain a partnership with the clients.”



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