Every year pests cause unnecessary economic loss in the food industry. From rats urine on drink cans to mouse skulls in fast food and caterpillars crawling in salads, there is potential risk that a pest found in the wrong place could become a front cover horror story like the infamous Mountain Dew case.
ABC reported that in 2009, oil company worker Ronald Ball opened a can of Mountain Dew from his firmâ€™s vending machine only to gag on a dead mouse inside. His attorney told ABC News that Ball stuck the mouse in a Styrofoam cup and displayed it to his co-workers. â€œHe immediately called Pepsi,â€ said attorney Samantha Unsell, so the company could stop production on the assembly line that allegedly snagged a mouse. She said a Pepsi representative came to collect the dead mouse. But the evidence had apparently been destroyed.
Just when the brand thought the tale of the mouse was behind themÂ Ball sued the soft drink company, seeking damages in excess of $50,000. Earlier this year Pepsi hit the headlines again. They argued Ball couldnâ€™t possibly have gagged on a mouse because Mountain Dewâ€™s powerful ingredients would have dissolved the rodentâ€™s body before the can ever reached the vending machine. By then, Pepsiâ€™s experts insisted, it would have become â€œa jelly-like substance.â€ It’s debatable which story caused more brand damage.
Within a food processing factory pests can contaminate raw materials and products in various ways including faeces, webs or skin shedding, causing costly product damage and disruption to the production process. This can have a serious affect on brand reputation too, and worse still – if non-compliance with applicable laws are proven a business can be prosecuted.
Flies pose the most common risk of pest infestation. I blogged last week about the foul things flies can do, but if a food processing plant is using the wrong sort of fly killer the fly disintegrates into fragments and the germ-ridden nastiness is spread throughout the factory which places the customer at risk of food poisoning.
Rodents are carriers of various bacterial and viral pathogens and pose a serious hazard for the food processing industry which is why finding a mouse in your favourite can of fizzy drink is cause for alarm as well as horror. A non-toxic rodent detection box like RADAR would alert a food processing factory to any rodent activity before it gets canned. PestNetOnline provides reporting and analysis so if the health inspector drops in for a surprise visit everything will be at hand.
The warmth, water, food and plentiful hiding places in food processing businesses provide welcoming environments for the mass reproduction of cockroaches and other crawling insects. Get the heads up on crawling insect activity by using bait and glue traps.
Health inspectors are great detectives and can trace any failings in the food supply chain. And if they don’t like what see they may close production down.
Consequences of pest infestation
- Low audit score, putting your brand reputation at risk and resulting in loss of customer trust
- Cost of damaged goods and raw materials, leading to production losses
- Lost sales due to disrupted production
- Cost of product recalls
- Compensation claims
- Prosecution for non-compliance with applicable laws
With ever tightening policies and regulations it can be tricky and time consuming to keep abreast of legislation.Â Rentokil has in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and audit standards and can provide pre-audit reports by specialist field biologists. If you are from the food processing sector and have a query about pests and food hygiene, please feel free to ask.