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Curbing infestation in food areas

In the wake of the number of food parks, manufacturing units, eateries… being planned across India, Clean India Journal takes stock of the different pest control mechanisms available, particularly for the food industry.

Joshua Rao

“Pests that can cause contamination in the food areas include cockroaches and flies. This does not mean that other pests are not active, especially with differential climatic conditions of India, every pest peaks during certain period of the year; thus necessitating increased precaution.”

When we talk of food industry in general, it would mean the food processing and the food serving segments involved in production, processing, distribution, preparing, packaging and serving. Consumption of pre-packaged food, partially or fully ready-to-cook/eat is on the rise and so are the number of outlets serving such foods.

While cleanliness & hygiene is the basic requirement to keep any kind of contamination at bay and to ensure food safety in any food related space, pest monitoring and control are equally essential.

“No doubt, hygiene is a prime factor where food is concerned; however, hygienic food area does not essentially eliminate the scope of pest and vice versa,” asserts Joshua Rao, Executive Director, Pest Control India Pvt. Ltd.

There are different low-chemical or non-chemical based pest technologies for food handlers. “For fly control in small food handling establishments, there are glue-based fly traps with no zapping, no fragmentation, no chemicals, and they are silent & ecofriendly,” explains Rao.

Pest management in the food industry can per se be addressed from two perspectives – the food processing and food handling. While walking into food joints and eateries is trendy, nobody pays any attention to the conditions under which the food is prepared.

The authorities have tightened its noose around the organised food manufacturers and handlers; however, the road side stall vendors are not yet getting penalized.

“When it comes to pest control we should be moving away from chemical usage,” says Rao. “We cannot eliminate chemicals altogether. It is important to understand where chemicals can be sprayed. Depending on the kind of pest, chemicals could be sprayed outside or in the area surrounding the food processing unit.” Spraying chemicals in the immediate vicinity enables to keep pest away from entering the food facility.

“Within the facility, no kind of chemical spray should be used, but there are mechanisms like the heat treatment to kill all kinds of insect pest. This is 100% safe as there is no chemical residue.”

Another solution for pests in food areas is the use of pheromone based products or “food based attractants”. It attracts cockroaches, traps and collects over a thousand of them on a glue board. “This is a silent, ecofriendly, effective and discreet solution as pheromone can be kept concealed from direct view. It has a longer effect requiring just periodic change of glue board and the attractant.”

In India, where food is served extensively in open areas, food stalls attract a lot of pests, especially flies.

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