MRO Q&A: How Can Pest Control Be Organic?

MRO Q&A is a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants.

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Q: Because our plant is certified organic, we have to be sensitive about pest control around our products. How can a pest control program effectively prevent pests yet maintain our organic standards?

A: It can be a challenge to maintain a pest-free facility and be green at the same time. But since keeping pests out isn’t optional – they can threaten your product and your reputation – it’s important to find a more effective and environmentally friendly approach to pest control.

The best way to incorporate green pest control methods successfully is to implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program. This approach stresses prevention over remediation and non-chemical solutions over chemical ones – an ideal solution for sensitive organic facilities. The first step to any IPM program is to implement strict sanitation, exclusion and facility maintenance efforts, which can help eliminate pests’ basic survival needs – food and water – and reduce their hiding places. Some examples of environmentally friendly pest management practices to incorporate into your IPM program include:

  • Organic cleaners, which use naturally occurring bacteria and enzymes to break down grease and grime.
  • Sticky boards, which are designed to capture and help monitor for crawling pests like cockroaches and ants.
  • Fly lights, which use ultraviolet light to attract flying pests to a non-toxic sticky board inside a confined trap unit.
  • Repellants and desiccants (as approved by the Organic Material Review Institute), which cause pests to retreat from your facility when applied to cracks and crevices where pests can hide.
  • Pheromones and insect growth regulators that use pests’ biology against them through synthetic copies of hormones involved in pest reproduction and growth.
  • Remember, pest control can have its place in an organic facility, but pests cannot.
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