The Case for Using A Complete Rodent Management Tool Box

If you don’t have all of the pieces to a puzzle, the total picture will never come together. The same can be said of designing and deploying an effective rodent management program.

To control rodents – a notoriously difficult pest to manage – pest professionals need an extended – not a limited – tool box at their disposal.

"Rodents must be controlled to maintain a safe food supply and protect consumers," says Dr. Niamh Quinn, interactions advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service.  "In order to do that they must deploy a variety of management and monitoring tools."

Quinn goes on to say that timing is everything when it comes to designing and carrying out an effective response to a rodent infestation.

"Rodents reproduce quickly and in large numbers, and achieving a quick knockdown of a rodent population is important," says Quinn. "Imagine if a restaurant, school cafeteria or food processing facility had to wait two or three weeks for an infestation to be reduced."

How are pest management professionals using the tools at their disposal?

It starts with continuing the rodent management best practices, founded in integrated pest management (IPM) principles, it currently deploys.

"Rodent management best practices include a variety of elements but it starts with exclusion and sanitation, and everyone in the facility, from upper management to the late shift workers, needs to have a strong proactive mindset," says Lance Van Zant, A.C.E., quality assurance supervisor for Clark Pest Control. "This can include the targeted use of rodenticides to eliminate and prevent disease-transmitting rodents from threatening food products."

Other IPM driven rodent management best practices include:

• Cultural, structural and sanitation practices
• Proper bait station location
• Collecting data from traps and stations
• Creating spatial mapping trend reports and analysis
• Performing a root-cause analysis to identify the true reason/condition why the rodent occurrence happened and come up with a preventive corrective action

Van Zant says Clark Pest Control has successfully deployed multi-catch devices and snap traps near doors and other vulnerable areas in commercial facilities to control rodents and reduce the use of bait stations.
"When we install these devices to replace and reduce bait usage, we have reduced the interior capture rate down to zero in most cases," adds Van Zant.

The Importance of Complete Rodent Management
Why is it important for pest management professionals (and their food industry clients) to have access to the latest pest management tools to control potentially harmful pests, like rodents? Consider the following outcomes that could become very "real," very quickly for a food industry facility should rodents gain access and contaminate products.

• Disease Transmission – Rodents transfer harmful pathogens (i.e. salmonella, E. coli, listeria, etc.) to food products (processed and unprocessed) endangering food and consumers.
• Damage to Property – Rodents, especially California’s populous roof rats, gnaw and chew on items, including electrical wiring that can lead to fires and damage the structural integrity of a facility.
• Contamination of Food Preparation Surfaces – Not only do rodents threaten food products but they taint surfaces where food is prepared, processed, stored and transported.
• Adverse Consumer Opinion and Brand Damage – News of a contaminated product can spread fast today on social media and severely and negatively impact your company’s brand in the eyes of consumers.
• A Blow to the Bottom Line – Contaminated products translate into lost sales revenue and additional unbudgeted expenses to correct the root cause of the problem.
• Failed Audits – A single rodent could cause your facility to fail an audit and lead to expensive corrective actions or the inability to sell your product.
• Recalls and Regulatory Action – If a food product is suspected of being contaminated the FDA, under its expanded recall authority, can order a costly recall or take additional, more severe regulatory action including criminal prosecution.

The Bottom Line
There is no silver bullet when it comes to proper rodent control. That is why it is extremely important that the pest management firm you partner with is thoroughly trained and able to inspect properly to perform root-cause analyses and implement customized solutions for your facility.

This article was submitted by Lance Van Sant, Clark Pest Control.

California League Of Food Producers