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How to Protect Your Food Processing Plant from Pantry Pests

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Left unchecked, pests can cause millions of dollars worth of damage to your commercial facility. They’re capable of destroying your product, compromising your delicate equipment, and ruining your reputation. Pests are particularly problematic in the food prep and distribution industry. Food processing facilities are a pest paradise. They offer everything a pest wants: shelter, warmth, seclusion, and most importantly, unlimited food. Rice, flour, grain, and cereal are very common food processing products. They’re also the preferred snack of pantry pests.

Preventing pantry pest infestations in your food processing facility should be one of your top priorities. We’re here to help you get started. Here’s what you should know about pantry pests in commercial facilities, and how to keep them out of yours.

Which pantry pests commonly infest food processing plants?

First, we’ll explain what a pantry pest is. “Pantry pest” is a common term for basically any pest that commonly infests dried food. You’ll find them anywhere that stores things like cereal, spices, chocolate, candy, and grain. The most troubling characteristic of pantry pests is the fact that they reproduce in their stored food habitats. They reproduce very quickly, too, which means infestations grow in a very short period of time. Some of the most common pantry pests are:

  • Indian meal moths: Indian meal moths can be found nationwide. Adult moths have golden-tan, pale grey, or bronze wings. Once fully-grown, moths only live for about a week. They spend that time reproducing and laying eggs. A single moth can lay about 400 eggs before they die off. Indian meal moth larvae live inside and feed on stored grain products.
  • Merchant grain beetles: Merchant grain beetles are slender, flat, and brown. They have distinctive sawlike tooth projections on each side of their thoraxes. They’re problematic for food distribution plants because they frequently crawl into food stores. While eating stored food, they produce waste that contaminates large amounts of product in a short amount of time.
  • Warehouse beetles: Warehouse beetles get their name because - you guessed it - they’re frequently found in warehouses. They’re small, round, and brownish-yellow or dark. Like other pantry pests, they have a capacity for laying incredible amounts of eggs in a short time. Warehouse beetles aren’t picky when it comes to food. They’ll feed on cereal, candy, cocoa, cornmeal, pet food, flour, nuts, dried peas, pasta, chips, and more.

How do pantry pests get inside your facility?

Pantry pests can get inside your facility in a number of different ways. Watch out for them infiltrating by:

  • Hitchhiking on incoming deliveries
  • Being attracted to unclean garbage cans or trash compactors
  • Hitching a ride on employees
  • Hiding inside of the trailers you use for pallet or cardboard storage
  • Finding holes in your perimeter via broken bricks, unsealed windows, or gaps in foundations
  • Sneaking up through floor drains

What are the best steps to take when it comes to prevention?

We’ve told you about the different types of common pantry pests and how they get into your facility. Now, here are some easy-to-implement best practices to help you prevent those pests from getting inside.

  • Inspect all incoming deliveries. Once you’ve accepted a delivery, examine everything for the signs of infestation before you store it away. Look for the pests themselves, or signs of their presence such as distinctive waste markings and chew marks.
  • Take out the garbage regularly and power wash your dumpsters. If you have any trash chutes in your facility, professionally clean them at least once per quarter. Be sure to clean out your dumpsters and bins as frequently as possible, too.
  • Do regular perimeter checks. Look for areas where pests can get in and repair them as necessary. Patch up broken bricks, seal any holes, and make sure that all screens fit their windows properly.

If you do your best and still find that pantry pests have invaded your plant, don’t worry. The team of trained technicians at Assured Environments are standing by to clear them out and keep them out in the future.

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