A New Era of Best Practices: Data-Driven Pest Management

The Pest Monitor Newsletter

data-driven pest management

For food and beverage production facilities, the last decade has included a significant emphasis on understanding and implementing the rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), passed in 2011. Now the decade of the ‘20s has shifted toward understanding and implementing the FDA’s evolving guidance for its New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint. 

While the foundation of FSMA was the shift from a reactive to a preventive approach to food safety, the New Era blueprint is driving a movement toward “smarter,” more predictive food safety based on data-driven technologies. With the ultimate goal being improvements in food safety problem prevention, detection, and response, your pest management program is being held to ever tightening measures. 

FSMA had already added requirements that your pest management partner (PMP) thoroughly document the manual inspections, risk assessments, and proactive remediation steps they take on your behalf. Now, the New Era is looking for food producers to implement technologies that enable smarter, more data-driven prevention and risk response in all aspects of food safety.

Although pest management may not be specifically mentioned in the New Era blueprint (as it is in FSMA), a recent FDA seizure shows the importance of implementing best practices in proactive pest management and the technologies by which to enable these. On October 1, the FDA announced the seizure of more than 25,000 boxes/bags of bulk spices and food additive products “held for sale under insanitary conditions.” 

The products were exposed to widespread rodent infestation as well as other pests, including live and dead insects. Stating that the widespread insanitary conditions “are disturbing and won’t be tolerated,” the FDA Acting Commissioner added, “We take our responsibility seriously and will continue to take action against those who threaten the safety and quality of the products we regulate.”

Although no digital technology can overcome an insanitary environment, it can provide the data to show existing and potential issues in and around the facility and enable trend analysis to prevent infestations well before they become the subject of an FDA action. As stated in the New Era blueprint, “New digital technologies offer the potential to help us predict and prevent food safety problems and better detect
and respond to problems when they do occur.”

The pest management industry itself is seeing digital technologies as the basis of a new era of best practices in pest prevention. As noted by the National Pest Management Association, “In this new era, pest control companies must tap into cutting-edge technologies and offer superior service across all digital mediums.” This is further supported by articles in industry publications stating: “The pest control industry is in the midst of a new era of technologies being developed for food plant pest detection, prevention and elimination” (PCT); and “Evolution [of pest control] is expected to reach considerable heights in the new decade with new technologies being developed for pest detection, prevention, and elimination – particularly related to the greatest of these in food plants: rodents and stored product insects.” (QA)


Integrated Pest Management Industry Report

Industry Report: 5 Ways F&B Can Prepare for Pest Management Compliance in the "New Era"

Our new industry report dives into the details of how the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint will reshape IPM in the F&B processing world — and gives you five definitive steps you can take to implement data-driven pest management in your business.

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