Latest News from BPCA

12 November 2019

Understanding and implementing Site-Specific Pest Risk Assessment (SSPRA)

Business feature| PPC97 November 2019

The purpose of a Site-Specific Pest Risk Assessment (SSPRA) is to assess the risks of pest activity occurring and to implement appropriate monitoring and control measures. They aim to mitigate the likelihood of commercially detrimental pest incidents from occurring, or from happening again.

In the food industry, a proactive, risk-based approach to pest management is essential for protecting your client’s products and brand.

All too often food companies, pet food manufacturers or food industry-related companies implement basic pest management systems that might look good on paper, but fail to provide a full level of protection due to weaknesses in the pest management programme.

One of the reasons this can occur is because of an inadequate pest risk-assessment of the site.

Often, pest management companies overlook potential risks to product and the potential harm that can occur to your client relationships when customers complain about receiving pest-contaminated pallets, packaging or product.

SSPRA john lloyd

By then, serious customer-relationship damage may already have occurred and QA personnel are then tasked with the burden of investigating the problem, appeasing your client and implementing safeguards to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Reviewing your Site-Specific Pest Risk Assessment (SSPRA)

For large, dynamic sites, or sites associated with food production, an SSPRA is an important component for a good quality, integrated pest management programme.

If you do not have an SSPRA you should carry one out as soon as possible as it will reduce the risk of future pest problems.

If you have already had an SSPRA in place, then an annual review is strongly recommended.

Following an SSPRA review, significant improvements can often be made by implementing simple modifications to the existing pest management programme, and this can significantly improve the quality of pest monitoring. A review can also help to speed the resolution of existing pest problems.

Tips for improving your SSPRA

  • Increasing the number of pest monitors in an area
  • Adjusting pest monitoring to include species-specific monitors such as specific pheromone traps for dry food pests
  • Improving your non-toxic rodent monitoring by including the use of lures or placebo baits
  • Review the frequency of routine service visits to see if they are appropriate for the needs of the site (this often becomes ‘set’ or outdated)
    • Some sites now increase their service frequency for fly control units to reduce the risk of flying insect problems during the warm summer months
    • Some sites in rural areas increase the frequency of their pest control visits during seasonal peak periods such as harvest time, when a greater level of dispersal occurs from rodents or insects
    • Some sites experience increased stored-product insect activity when nuts or fruit products are brought in from harvest and therefore additional inspections and monitoring measures may be required during the post-harvest period
1. Environmental Factors
Ref Factors Considerations and Comment
1.1 Environment/Location: Industrial Urban-Rural Different environmental settings influence the risk of pest activity that may occur on site. The environmental setting for each site is unique and this should be borne in mind when carrying out an SSPRA.
2. Site proximity to neighbouring high risk areas
2.1 Is the site adjacent to: Watercourses Railway lines Waste handling facilities Water treatment sites Dense woodland

These areas are important factors that can influence the presence of pest activity by acting as pest reservoirs or by providing routeways for rodents or flying insects to occur on the adjacent property.  

The presence of these areas can influence the shape of pest monitoring and pest control programmes. They can influence the quantity or location of pest monitors and even influence where external rodent monitoring could be concentrated, for example to intercept incoming rodent activity.

Woodland areas and watercourses can result in small, flying insects being carried on airstreams into buildings.

3. Building type
3.1 Is the property: Old New Purpose-built for use Converted for use

In old buildings the building fabric may be susceptible to pest activity. It can provide easier access for pests to enter via gaps and holes into the building or to penetrate wall voids etc.  

New and purpose-built facilities present a lower risk of pest ingress into the building fabric, because they are usually designed to reduce the risk of pest access and pest harbourage within the building.

For example, external metal wall cladding panels with a securely sealed base are effective in excluding rodents.

3.2 Is the property: Detached or ‘shared’ (adjoining neighbouring premises)

A ‘shared’ property significantly increases the risk of infestation from adjacent premises because pests can move from one building to another.

If the neighbouring property has pests present, and pest prevention measures are lacking or absent, this will significantly increase the risk of pests migrating from one property to another.

This can occur along cable and pipe routeways, through wall cavities or via connecting roof voids and underfloor voids.

4. Building structure and high-risk areas
4.1 Does the condition of the external building fabric and the quality of the proofing help to exclude pests from the building?

Good quality proofing and good door discipline is essential. If open wall cavities, holes and gaps are present in the external building fabric, there is a risk of pest ingress into the building.

The presence of wall cladding or thermal outer layers can create a ‘double skin’ that provides harbourage for rodents and allows them to ascend the building.

4.2 Are there any gaps or voids present? The presence of wall cavities and roof voids provide a significant risk of pest activity – especially if they are linked to an adjacent premises.
4.3 Utility services intake points for Water Gas and Electric Data/telecom cables

Open-ended conduits supplying pipes or cabling from the street outside provide a significant risk of pest ingress. Pipes and cables are frequently used by pests as a routeway into buildings.

These areas should be checked, and any gaps sealed. Monitoring is recommended.

4.4 Basements and shared basements Basement areas can provide a source of harbourage unless monitored. Shared basements may allow pests to move between buildings.
4.5 Suspended ceiling voids Suspended ceilings can provide harbourage for pests. They can provide a source of rodent or cockroach activity, allowing numbers to increase undetected and to infest areas below at ground level. Where there has been a history of pest activity, increased monitoring in these areas is recommended.
4.6 Is the building waterproof? Leaky buildings can damage stock and create internally damp environments suitable for invertebrates such as psocids or flies. These can subsequently contaminate pallets, packaging or finished product.
4.7 Is good quality drainage present inside the building?

Poor quality drainage or areas of standing water may result in flying insect activity, such as flies and other small invertebrates (eg rove beetles – staphylinidae) which can appear in large numbers.

Appropriate monitoring measures should be used to highlight outbreaks of high numbers of flying insects. It will also highlight the need for the removal of standing water or for drain cleaning in localised areas.

5. Building structure and cleaning schedules
5.1 Are any high risk, inaccessible areas present in the production area, such as high level ledges or overhead, horizontal surfaces?

Relatively inaccessible high level areas can be difficult to clean and difficult to inspect on a regular basis, allowing rodent or insect pest activity to develop undetected and to spread to adjacent areas.

These areas can present a significant risk of pest activity, especially in dry food-powder environments. For monitoring and control ensure an appropriate cleaning and inspection schedule is in place. If possible, deploy monitors in some inaccessible areas for periodic checking.

5.2 Are there any flat roofs or overhead voids present that are inaccessible for cleaning? These areas can provide ideal conditions for pest activity to become established and for numbers to increase undetected. They therefore present a risk of infestation for adjacent areas.
6. Previous history of pest activity
6.1 Review the pattern of previous pest activity. Based on pest history, it might be necessary to review pest monitoring and treatment measures currently in place. Consider if the history and frequency of pest incidents indicates the need to increase the frequency of service visits (for example increasing routine service visits from every 6 weeks to 4 weeks).
6.2 Has there been any previous history of pest activity or ‘hot spot’ areas. Check if appropriate monitoring or control measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of a pest incident occurring again.
6.3 What is the risk of critical pest activity happening again?

Consider how long ago an incident occurred, where, why, its cause and what was its severity?

Were there any risks to food safety as a result of a previous pest incident? Did it result in a customer complaint or were significant economic costs incurred? Ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent a recurrence of a critical pest incident.

6.4 Is a review of the existing service programme required? Based on previous pest history, it might be necessary to completely review the current pest control monitoring or treatment measures for the site.
7. Codes of practice
7.1 Company Operating Standards, Regulatory Standards and Codes of Practice Check Company Operating Standards, Regulatory Standards and Codes of Practice to ensure that the proposed integrated pest management programme is compliant and effective in reducing the risk of pest activity.
7.2 For Example: Codes of Practice such as Organic standards or AIB, might restrict or exclude the use of rodenticides on site.

For organic or ‘non-toxic’ sites, many forms of non-toxic monitoring are available and a non-toxic system will require more frequent checks of the non-toxic rodent monitors.

Therefore, the presence of a suitably trained member of staff might be necessary to ease the burden of additional checks otherwise carried out by the pest contractor. Ideally, on non-toxic sites, internal rodent monitors should be checked weekly by a trained, competent person, and the pest contractor should provide visits every 4 weeks.

This is because the usual interval of 6 weeks (8 visits a year) between service visits is too long, as rodents can become established in a building during the 6 week period.

8. Pest control service contract
8.1 Is the current pest control service agreement relevant and satisfactory? Is the service contract still relevant and fit for purpose for the demands of the site?
8.2 If there have been recurring or chronic pest problems, is the frequency of service visits appropriate for the site? Does the number of service visits need to be increased? Basic pest control contracts usually provide for eight service visits each year (a visit every six weeks) for rodents and crawling insects. However, larger, more complex, or high specification sites may require twelve visits per year.
8.3 Is the frequency of servicing for fly control units sufficient. There are typically four service visits per year for fly control units. However, for high risk sites, or sites where glue boards in fly control units fill quickly with flies, the frequency of service visits could be increased to: (i) Twelve service visits each year. Or (ii) Fortnightly visits during the warm summer months, to ensure that the glue boards in fly control units remain effective for intercepting flies.
8.4 Is monitoring for stored-product insects (SPIs) required? If present, are existing monitoring measures appropriately deployed?

High risk areas such as raw material and finished product storage areas could require monitoring for stored product moths or crawling insects.

There is a high risk of SPI activity at dried food sites, powdered dry food sites and pet food manufacturing sites. In areas such as bakeries and flour mills, monitoring for stored product insects adjacent to machinery might be required. This will highlight the risk of any increase in insect activity and will also highlight a need for targeted cleaning to reduce the risk of increased SPI activity. Typically, moth pheromone traps are serviced are eight times per year.

8.5 Is there provision for periodic biologist or technical audits? Is the frequency of inspection for these visits appropriate for the needs of the site? Usually, on high specification sites, biologist or technical inspections are carried out once, twice or four times per year.
8.6 Is there any provision in place for an annual, independent, third party audit to assess and verify the Quality Standard of the pest management programme?

IPMIC Ltd can provide help and technical support for independent third party audits regarding food safety and the quality of pest management. We can advise on pest-related matters, assess quality standards and verify compliance to company standards and codes of practice.

Unbiased third-party audits assist with your programme of continuous development for pest management on site.

9. Waste handling
9.1 Are good quality processes and good operating standards in place for handling waste on site? Are conditions for the storage and removal of waste appropriate? Are cleaning schedules efficient in removing spillages?
9.2 How close is the waste handling area to the building? If adjacent to the external perimeter of the building, can the waste storage area be relocated?
9.3 Waste handling areas attract pests and provide harbourage for rodent and insect pest activity. Are appropriate monitoring and control measures in place for external rodent activity in waste handling areas? Are appropriate fly control measures in place inside the building adjacent to waste handling areas?
10. Site processes – High Risk Areas

High risk areas. Flies present a significant risk in high-risk food areas, especially where ready-to-eat food products are present.

This is because flies are vectors of foodborne pathogens and, in high-risk areas, food may support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms transmitted by flies. Such microbial contamination presents a risk to public health because the food may not be exposed to further treatments that would otherwise destroy pathogenic micro-organisms, prior to being eaten.

The restricted use of pest monitors in high risk zones places a greater emphasis on good quality visual inspections of the building fabric, floors, drains and machinery.

Pest monitors and fly control units can be strategically deployed in adjacent, low-care areas to intercept rodents or flying insects before they enter high-risk areas. When electric fly control units are deployed in a high risk environment, their purpose is to demonstrate an absence of flying insect activity, and to intercept any individual flies that might stray into the area.

10.2 Are appropriate fly control measures in place to intercept flying insect activity? Flies may enter from adjacent low risk areas such as processing or packing areas, external doorways, passageways or from waste hatches.
10.3 High risk areas – critical threshold limits. Are critical threshold limits present for flying insects? The critical threshold limits for flying insect activity should be low. To ensure that appropriate ‘safe limits’ or ‘acceptable limits’ are in place, a review of previous flying insect activity, and a review of the critical threshold limits is recommended.
10.4 High risk areas – historical flying insect activity.

Consider the primary source for previous flying insect activity. External sources could cause higher numbers of blowflies or moths to be present, and an internal source may cause higher numbers of drain flies or fruit flies to occur.

Consider if appropriate control measures are in place to reduce the risk to finished product.

11. Raw materials and finished products

Dry food sites are susceptible to a wide variety of stored product insect pests.

Food sites particularly at risk are those handling or processing the following commodities: Rice, dried vegetables, herbs, dried fruit, cocoa beans, nuts, chocolate, grain, cereal-based products or dry-powdered food products such as dried milk or infant formula.

High risk areas would include raw material storage areas, food production machinery and finished product storage areas.

Ensure that an appropriate insect monitoring strategy is in place for the detection of insect pests associated with the food being handled on site.

Facilities handling dry food products have a high risk of stored product moth and stored product beetle activity. Therefore a review of existing SPI monitoring measures is recommended. Are there any monitors in place for stored product moths?

Are there any monitors in place for stored product crawling insects? Is the distribution of SPI monitors appropriate? Is the type of SPI monitor appropriate for the species being monitored (for example, are blunder traps or pheromone traps more appropriate)?

12. Process machinery

Cereal based food products, meat and fish based products are especially attractive to insect pests.

Therefore, in the production area, any accumulated food debris present inside machinery significantly increases the risk of insect pest activity.

On food production sites, a significant risk of insect activity can occur when:- Food process machinery is run constantly and only stopped briefly or occasionally to allow for cleaning. When food debris accumulates in food process machinery in areas that are difficult to access for frequent cleaning.

Set up an inspection schedule for machinery and coordinate access between the pest control contractor, Hygiene Department, Electrical Department and Engineering Department – to ensure that high risk process machinery is accessible for more frequent cleaning and for SPI inspections to be carried out during the year.

13. Plant and Equipment
13.1 Stored product insect activity can be associated with a wide variety of plant and equipment.

High risk equipment would include:- silos, hoppers, weighers, mixers, storeveyors, conveyors (especially less accessible, overhead conveyors), and dust extraction units. Additional areas would include motor housing areas and electrical areas such as electrical cabinets or electrical switch units.

To reduce the risk of increased SPI activity:- Appropriate crawling insect monitors or moth pheromone traps should be deployed. Frequent cleaning schedules should be in place. An inspection schedule for plant and equipment is recommended.

14. Rodent monitoring
14.1 Is an appropriate rodent monitoring and control programme in place? Ensure an adequate level of monitoring is in place in both internal and external areas. Ensure vulnerable areas are adequately protected (such as external doorways and waste handling areas).
14.2 Is non-toxic monitoring in place? A variety of non-toxic monitoring methods can be used – placebo (non-toxic bait), break-back traps or rodent lures. Ideally using more than one type of non-toxic monitor could increase the level of detection and may help indicate the early presence of rodent activity.
14.3 Is rodent monitoring proactive and does it reflect changes that have occurred on site? Sites are dynamic environments that always provide new opportunities for a sudden occurrence of pest activity. New pest activity can be caused by high volume pallet movements, open doors, removing or installing new process machinery, changes in production/processing methods and structural changes, such as new buildings, construction and extensions on site. Ensure the pest monitoring and control programme is robust, proactive, adaptable and is updated to reflect any changes on site.
15. Flying insects
15.1 Position of electric fly control units For effective control of flying insects, the location of each electric fly control unit should be carefully assessed to maximise the control of flying insects in an area and to reduce the risk of contamination of food or packaging.
15.2 Suitability of electric fly control units Are existing fly control units the correct size for the area to be covered?
15.3 Do the electric fly control units have electrified grids or glue boards present?

The type of fly control unit used can influence the frequency of service visits. Many sites using fly control units with electrified grids are serviced 4 times a year. However, when using glue board units, the glue boards can fill quickly during the summer months (especially if they are located near external doors).

Once full, the lack of an adhesive surface on the glue boards means that the fly control unit is no longer effective for intercepting flies. This therefore significantly increases the risk of contamination for food and packaging in production areas.

15.4 Is the frequency of service visits to fly control units sufficient? If glue boards become full during the summer months, consider increasing the frequency of service visits either from monthly to fortnightly, or from quarterly to monthly – depending on the level of risk.
15.5 Are appropriate measures in place to exclude flying insects from the building?

Doorways in goods-in or dispatch areas usually experience higher levels of flying insect activity.

Improvements could be made by installing automatic roller doors, fitting self-closing mechanisms to pedestrian doors or fly-strip curtains to external doors. These measures will reduce the risk of pest ingress.

16. Crawling insects
16.1 Any previous history of crawling insect activity will influence the nature of the crawling insect monitoring programme. Is an adequate level of monitoring in place for crawling insects?

Crawling insects are usually casual intruders, but some species such as house crickets (Acheta domesticus) or booklice (Psocids) can complete their life cycle inside the building and present a risk to food and packaging.

Depending on the history of crawling insect activity, and the species concerned, a specific crawling insect monitoring strategy might be required.

16.2 Monitoring for Psocoptera (booklice) Ensure an adequate level of monitoring is in place especially in pallet and top-frame storage areas, packaging stores and in areas where pallets of dried powdered raw materials or finished product are stored.
16.3 Monitoring for Acheta domesticus – house crickets

Ensure appropriate monitoring is in place for house cricket activity because infestations can be difficult to eradicate once they become established. Crickets will find harbourage in inaccessible gaps, holes, cracks and crevices and also in conduits for cables and piping. This hinders targeted treatments, making control measures difficult and slow.

House crickets pose a significant risk and can occur in raw material storage areas, packaging stores, production areas, finished product storage areas and boiler houses. If there has been a history of house cricket activity on site, a greater level of vigilance is required and there should be a greater emphasis on insect monitoring to allow for the early detection of any new activity.

Increased levels of monitoring could include areas such as wall-floor junctions, overhead ledges and along cable and pipe route ways. If possible, deploy crawling insect monitors adjacent to machinery at risk or adjacent to motor housing areas or along electrical cable trunking.

17. Cockroaches
17.1 Has there been a history of intermittent or persistent cockroach activity on site? If cockroach activity has occurred, an extended form of monitoring and more detailed inspections are required. The number of cockroaches caught on crawling insect monitors should be carefully recorded for trend analysis.
17.2 Have German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) occurred on site?

German cockroaches prefer warm, moist environments especially where plant and machinery are present. They can be found inside tray wash plant, motor housings, under machine panels, inside electrical switch boxes, fridge motor areas and vending machines.

German cockroaches can readily climb smooth surfaces to occupy gaps, crevices and voids for harbourage. Once established, populations can be difficult to eradicate. If there has been a history of German cockroach activity, ensure a greater level of vigilance and positive reporting by staff is in place.

Monitoring should be increased and detailed inspections should be carried out. If necessary, ensure that high risk plant or equipment is visually inspected as part of a regular inspection schedule. This will enable localised, targeted treatments to be carried out if required.

17.3 Have Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis) occurred on site?

Oriental cockroaches can occur in warm voids, drains, waste/compactor areas, cellars, boiler houses and pipe ducts. They will exploit spaces and voids inside processing equipment.

They will travel extensively from their point of harbourage and can travel up to 100 metres in search of food. Ensure that extended monitoring is in place and that detailed inspections are carried out. This will enable localised, targeted treatments to be carried out if required.

18. Stored product insects
18.1 Is a monitoring programme in place in high risk areas for the detection of stored product insects (SPIs) such as SPI beetles or dry product moths?

SPIs are associated with dried food products including cereal products, nuts, dried fruit, spices, seeds, powdered milk, tea and preserved meats.   Some SPI species are able to enter packaging such as paper, cardboard, plastic cellophane and foil. Access holes are very small, and some insects are able to penetrate tiny gaps in pouches or packaging that has not been fully hermetically sealed. This can allow SPIs to develop inside packages of finished product.  

Once inside finished product packaging (or in other areas where accumulated food debris occurs), all stages of insect development can be present (eggs, larvae pupae and adult). Ensure that appropriate monitors are deployed for stored product beetles and dry food-product moths. Also ensure that appropriate visual inspections are carried out on product stored in high risk storage areas.

18.2 Which areas are covered for stored product insect monitoring? Appropriate inspections and SPI monitoring is required in high risk areas where food could become exposed to insect activity during the production process – especially in the post- cooking and pre-packaging stages of production. There is a risk of the contamination of food by stored product insects in:-Raw materials foods and dried food product. Raw material food storage areas.
18.3 Have all risks of stored product insect activity occurring in the production process been considered?

To allow for the early detection and control of stored product insect activity in high risk areas key plant and equipment in the production area should be monitored and inspected. This would include high risk machinery such as:- DCE units, conveyors and screw conveyors, plansifters, cyclones, weighers, enrobers and filling lines.

Any equipment where dead air spaces may cause food debris to accumulate such as air handling systems, ducts, chutes or pneumatic conveyors. Peripheral locations next to the main production area are also high risk areas because these can harbour stored product insects and cause the re-infestation of production machinery after it has been cleaned.

There are many potential peripheral high risk areas, but typical examples would include electrical switch boxes, electrical conduits, electrical cable ladders, overhead horizontal surfaces and ledges and wall floor junctions in the food production areas.

Fundamental mistakes when carrying out SSPRAs

Fundamental pest problems can arise because some contractors fail to recognise the specific requirements of a site or fail to identify the specific risks that may allow pest activity to occur.

SSPRAs should not be based on generic assessments because the location and circumstances for each site is unique and each has its own potential risks for the occurrence of pest activity.

Annual service contract reviews

As part of the SSPRA, a review of the pest service contract is also recommended. Considerations should include:

  • The scope of service being provided (does it cover all relevant pest species – such as stored product insects)?
  • Is the frequency of service visits sufficient?
  • Is there an appropriate follow-up visit protocol in place, in the event of internal rodent or insect pest issues?
  • Are the critical limits for pest activity set too high or too low?
  • Does the contract include provision for an annual SSPRA?

These matters should be reviewed annually, and not left unchanged until there is a problem. 

Client-contractor communication

For SSPRAs to be effective, close liaison between you and your client is vital.

Commercial sites are dynamic places, often with ongoing changes to the production processes or to building fabric, or new construction projects taking place. Consequently, pest activity can be dynamic too.

You need to encourage clients to tell about important changes on site so that you can update their SSPRA and implement revised monitoring and control measures.

If companies undertake new construction/development projects or introduce changes to procedures relating to food handling, food processing, waste handling or modifying processing machinery on site, it is wrong to assume that the existing SSPRA will remain up to date, and under these circumstances, a new SSPRA should be carried out.

The benefits of Site-Specific Pest Risk Assessments

  • They focus attention on vulnerable or critical areas of the site that might otherwise be overlooked
  • They highlight the risk of pests in peripheral areas in places that might be difficult to access, such as voids, electrical areas, plant
  • They help to identify the risk of pest infestations and the risk of food contamination by pests during the food handling or food production process
  • They reduce the risk of pest activity occurring at critical control points. This allows appropriate safeguards or control measures to be put in place to reduce the risk of pest-related incidents from occurring.

IPMICJohn Lloyd
Principal Consultant, Independent Pest Management and Insect Consultancy

4 April 2018  |  BPCA Online

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