Common Food Pests – #3: Stored Product Insects

Stored Product Insects are a major and ongoing risk for food processing facilities. From food manufacturing companies, mills, silos and pharmaceutical facilities to retail outlets and foodservice or hospitality establishments, Stored Product Insects can destroy stock and render it unusable – costing you both money and time in stock losses and infestation control.

What are Stored Product Insects?

The term Stored Product Insects or SPI’s, relates to a broad range of pests that can infest a food storage area, the most common of which include weevils, moths, mites and beetles. Specific species include the Rice Grain and Maize Weevils, Confused Flour Beetle, Redrust Beetle, India Meal Moth, Cacao Moth, Tobacco Moth, Warehouse Moth, Mediterranean Flour Moth (or Mill Moth) and Tobacco Beetle.

Where are you likely to find Stored Product Insects?

Food that is most commonly infested includes Grains, Cereals, Flour, Wheat, Chocolate, Cheese, Dried fruits, Nuts, Dried vegetables, Dried eggs, Powdered milk, Spices, Seeds, Rice, Pasta, Raisins, Cured Meats and Pet food. There are numerous non-food items that can also become infested and damaged through Stored Product Insects and these often include Dried Flowers, Potpourri, Garden Seeds or Agricultural Seed, Tobacco, Cork , Wood and Dried Plant Displays.

How do storage areas become contaminated?

Very often it is a single contaminated item that has been brought into the storage facility, that causes a quick and widespread infestation. Stored Product Pests are able to multiply very quickly and spread throughout a facility, contaminating goods as they bore through paper, plastic and even sealed containers.

How do you identify Stored Product Insects in food?

It is important that staff be educated to constantly be on the lookout for signs of an infestation. The earlier the infestation is recognised and brought under control, the less financial and operational damage your business is likely to experience.

Each pest has a unique method of destruction. Speak to our consultants for help in identifying exactly what type of infestation you suspect. This helps to determine the type of control measures that need to be taken.

The most common signs of a Stored Product Insect infestation in food include:

  • Small holes, tears and other damage to packaging
  • Dust and spillage outside of storage packaging or containers
  • Webbing or larvae found on the outside of bags, bins, boxes or packets
  • Larvae, pupae or webbing found on sills, shelving, machinery, beams, on or near storage and in and around spillage
  • Pests crawling over counters and floors
  • Insects found in other pest traps, such as rodent or fly traps
  • Insects found inside stored food items

How do Stored Product Insects affect food products?

In addition to being present in, and damaging food items, it is the breeding, feeding and defecating habits of these insects that contaminate food. For example, weevils are well known for boring through grains and destroying them, while beetles lay eggs in food items. An infestation will always make food products unfit for human consumption. Insects also damage packaging which not only makes a product unsaleable, but will also reduce shelf-life and pose the threat of disease.

How to treat and control an infestation

Employing an experienced, professional commercial cleaner such as Ecowize to help you lock down an infestation, can save both money and time. Treatment measures must be potent enough to eradicate the Stored Food Insects, while not presenting any health hazard to the facility or end-use product and not spreading the infestation further.

Our first step lies in correctly identifying the insect and the extent of the infestation. Once this has been achieved, we then detail a treatment and control plan to eradicate the insect and prevent any further infestation. Treatment includes safely disposing of all affected and contaminated product and a thorough cleaning of the affected area, using safe and suitable chemicals and cleaning methods.

How to prevent infestation and contamination

Not only does an infestation result in the loss of product, but it also costs both time and money to treat. While prevention measures will never be completely fool-proof, they do reduce risk considerably.

  1. Educate Staff: Ensure that your team knows how to inspect incoming stock and then identify and check for Stored Product Insects and contaminated goods before they enter your facility. At Ecowize, we can assist in providing this training.
  2. Storage: Do not store dried goods for longer than four months.
  3. Cleaning: Ensure your food storage and processing facilities are scrupulously clean at all times, both before and after handling and storing goods. Hiring a professional cleaning company such as Ecowize, will most definitely help you manage this requirement easily.
  4. Temperature: Pests thrive in heat, so where possible, keep food products at the coldest possible temperature or store highly targeted food products in cold rooms.
  5. Pesticides: Use approved pesticides and pest management systems to prevent, manage and eliminate Stored Product Insects. Working together with a professional and experienced pest control company such as Ecowize, will ensure that you use the safest, most efficient methods of pest control.

At Ecowize we have the knowledge and experience to help you develop a pest control plan that will minimise the threat of an infestation at your facility. Arrange a consultation with one of our pest control experts today as your first step to avoiding the exorbitant cost and risk that an pest infestation could bring to your business. Call us on 087 803 022 or send us a message today.

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