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Fumigation Pest Control in the Food Processing Industry

If you work in the Food Processing industry, the last thing you want is a pest problem. News of foodborne illness, poor sanitation, lack of quality control, and other issues of the like spread like wildfire and can be disastrous for a company’s reputation. In addition to the reputational hit, there are astronomical costs of recalls and damaged goods. Disrupted production can also lead to a significant loss in sales.

Stay ahead of pest concerns in your business with Western Exterminator’s Food Processing Pest Control services.  Let our commercial pest control experts take something off of your plate and put your mind at ease.


Fumigation and Control Solutions for the Food Processing Plants


To determine the best course of action for controlling pests within a food processing plant, a Western Exterminator pest specialist will do a thorough inspection of the site. This will allow him/her to ascertain the type(s) of pest present and the degree of infestation.

Most commonly and in less-severe instances, the pest specialist will place monitors and traps throughout the facility to observe and eliminate activity. In more severe cases, food processing establishments may choose to incorporate fogging into their service strategy. As a part of an on-going, proactive program to control pests, this comes with less risk than fumigation. Though it should be done during a plant shutdown, fogging can be carried out in an open environment, causing relatively minimal disruption. The area to be fogged must be sealed off. After the fogging, all processing equipment must be cleaned to remove any residual fogging substance. Fogging does not kill all lifecycle stages of stored product pests.

The last resort in food processing plant pest control is fumigation. It carries a more significant loss of production time than other solutions. Fumigation also requires closing off airtight spaces in which to use a registered fumigant to eliminate stored product pests. After the required time after fumigation has passed, clearing monitor equipment will be used by a licensed fumigator to “clear” the facility if the air is found to be below the fumigant label PPM requirements. Once the fumigator determines that the facility is below label requirements, the facility will be posted for re-entry and certified “clear” of the fumigant.

In conjunction with a plant fumigation, plants may also elect to fumigate transport trailers themselves. This approach requires complete shipment inspection, prior to its arrival, to keep any infested product away from the facility entirely.

Active Ingredients Used in Fumigation

Should your facility require fumigation treatment, it is essential that the process is done only by trained and licensed professionals. Putting your facility in the hands of the extensively trained pest specialists from your local Western Exterminator pest control team is the best option for your business. Your specialist(s) will determine the best plan of action, using the most situationally effective fumigant. There are two primary fumigants used, both with different qualities.

  • Sulfuryl Fluoride
  • First used for structural fumigations against wood-destroying pest
  • Approved for use in food facilities in 2005
  • Primary replacement for methyl bromide in food handling facilities
  • Phosphine
  • Most versatile fumigant
  • Only fumigant registered for fumigation of food commodities in transit on railcars
  • Excellent penetration capabilities
  • Cannot be used when electronic equipment or sprinkler systems are present

Preparing for Fumigation

In preparation for fumigation, there are a number of things that must be done inside and outside the building.


Interior building preparation

  • Extinguish any flames or high-temperature heat sources
  • Open doors and equipment within the facility to allow full aeration and penetration
  • Remove any items that will not withstand fumigation

(this is especially important for live plants)

Exterior building preparation

  • Ensure that all exterior windows and doors can be locked
  • Make all areas accessible for fumigation (provide keys where needed)
  • Clear all truck docks
  • Notify fire and police departments of service

Stored Product Pests in the Food Processing Industry

One of the primary pest issues in Food Processing that we see is that of stored product pests. Contamination of food products leads to a great deal of product loss. Regulatory issues may also arise due to the presence of foreign objects in the product. In the Food Processing industry, the stored product pests of greatest concern are the following:

  • Cigarette Beetle
  • Confused Flour Beetle
  • Granary Weevil
  • Indian Meal Moth
  • Lesser Grain Beetle
  • Merchant Grain Beetle
  • Red Flour Beetle
  • Sawtoothed Grain Beetle
  • Warehouse Beetle

These invasive pests bore into your food products and eat all that they please, leaving behind damaged goods that are no longer safe for distribution. They may be small, but they can surely make an impact.

No Room for Pests in Food Processing

Before a problem arises, there are actions you can take to control stored product pests.

  • Prevention - inspect incoming product so that no pests are brought in
  • Sanitation - clean up any spilled or damaged product
  • Proper storage - ensure that all containers are sealed and reduce use of cardboard and paper containers when possible to lessen the chance of pests eating through
  • Stock rotation - old, forgotten product is vulnerable to infestation
  • Ventilation - most pests need humidity to survive and airing product out will reduce moisture content

Getting rid of pests in a food processing facility can be a stressful process, but not to worry. Western is here to help you take care of things. Your pest specialist will supply you with any documentation you might need to adhere to regulatory third-party audits and will continue monitoring for recurring activity. To discuss pest control options for your food processing facility, contact us online or give us a call at 888-444-6138.

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