Pest Bird Control Procedures in Food Processing Facilities
In recent years, food and beverage processing industries have become subject to intense scrutiny of regulatory agencies, government institutions, and third-party auditors. As a result, managers of food processing plants have started to pay more attention to the many hazards posed by physical, chemical, and microbial contaminants.
Flies, cockroaches, rodents, and ants are known carriers of disease and pathogens, and many food and beverage processing plants have various procedures in place to identify, treat, and prevent infestations. However, not many of them think of birds as a pest, despite the fact that they carry dozens of bacteria, parasites, and disease-causing pathogens that are just as dangerous to food safety and human health.
The three most notorious pest birds – sparrows, pigeons, and starlings – are common in and around industrial and commercial facilities such as food processing plants, restaurants, and grocery stores, because many of them offer food, water, and safe harbor. While their mere presence may not seem hazardous, the acid in their droppings may damage building exteriors and equipment, while their molted feathers, dried droppings, and ectoparasites can contaminate food and cause severe respiratory infections.
Prompt Action: Best Pest Bird Management Guidelines
As pest management providers, we make sure clients are protected from potential bird contamination by developing a pest management plan that contains the following essential phases:
1. Cleaning & sanitation of the exterior. Any effective pest management plan that aims to keep plants out of a food processing facility starts with the exterior.
- In terms of landscaping, trees should be well pruned and trimmed as to not provide harborage for birds; they should be at least 1.5 feet away from the exterior building walls.
- Storage materials such as pallets should be placed as far away from the building as possible. The same applies to garbage receptacles and dumpsters, which should be regularly cleaned to keep birds from feeding and nesting there.
- Regular inspections should be carried out at least once every three months to eliminate problem areas such as: bodies of standing water; areas where birds are nesting and loafing; and areas that may provide food sources for birds.
2. Identification & elimination of access points. Doors are the main entryway for many pest birds, and employees often keep them open to save time and energy. To deny entry of birds and other pests as well, doors and windows, including those at loading docks, should be kept closed whenever possible. In case they must remain open, adding heavy-gauge plastic strip curtains can act as an effective barrier.
3. Evacuation. Despite the most rigorous management plans, some birds still manage to gain access inside a building. It is essential to remove them as soon as possible from the premises to prevent contamination, through methods such as:
- Turning off the lights in the infested areas and opening an exterior door will help you get rid of them as many bird species are drawn to natural light.
- Mist netting, calls, and traps are effective ways to trap and remove birds from inside a building. However, these courses of action should be undertaken by professionals trained in pest bird management, who can act immediately to prevent birds from finding food, water, and shelter on the premises. Some bird species are protected by state laws, and their removal can only be carried out with a special permit. Contacting a pest control professional will ensure you are not breaking any laws when attempting to remove birds from your premises (including protected species).
4. Employee training and education. Workers should be the first line of defense against birds in food and beverage processing facilities. They usually know where pests are seen or may be gaining access inside, therefore educating them on the importance of prevention and sanitation methods is essential. Post signs and reminders about closing doors and educate employees about proper cleaning and storage practices to keep both the exterior and interior areas free of bird attractants.
The presence of birds in commercial food facilities can irritate employees and customers, damage the building structure and equipment, and cause the failure of third-party audits, which in turn may lead to shutdowns and lost revenue. To battle pest birds effectively, plant managers should work together with experienced pest control professionals to relocate or eliminate those birds that have chosen to call the property home. Contact your local pest control company to learn more about the importance of not just the elimination of current infestations, but also of ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid garde