Integrated Pest Management in the Retail Sector
- By Francois Swart, Director at The Specialists Franchise Group
“Pest infestations in shopping and retail environments are not only costing you massive stock losses but will also tarnish your hard-earned reputation in a very competitive market”
Let’s review our previous articles in the October and November issues. We confirmed that pest species require three things to breed and flourish: food, water and harbourage. We also reiterated the importance of an ongoing Integrated Pest Management program on retail sites, conforming to food safety criteria and audited as such. We have looked at housekeeping, exclusion measures as well as biological pest control.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the process consisting of the balanced use of Cultural, Biological, and Chemical procedures that are environmentally compatible, economically feasible, and socially acceptable to reduce pest populations to tolerable levels.
In this, the third and last of our series of articles, we will discuss the merits of using the tried and tested way of dealing with pest infestations through the responsible application of registered Chemical remedies to eradicate a specific pest species.
“It is vitally important to understand that do-it-yourself remedies will not give you the required efficacy and that the correct remedies can only be applied by a registered individual, trained and qualified to apply the pesticide.”
Chemical Pest Control
From a treatment perspective the responsible use of registered pesticides by registered Pest Control Operators is always the last resort after Cultural and Biological procedures have been implemented (See previous 2 articles). Chemical pesticides however are efficient, cost effective and a widely used method of dealing with pest infestations. It is vitally important to understand that do-it-yourself remedies will not give you the required efficacy and that the correct remedies can only be applied by a registered individual, trained and qualified to apply the pesticide. Act 36 of 1947 (The Agricultural Remedies Act) provides for this and states clearly that a person that is not registered with the Department of Agriculture and in possession of a P-Number certificate is not allowed to apply pesticides.
Secondly, it is also necessary to make sure that your Pest Control service provider is a member of an industry body to ensure that their compliance on all levels including public liability insurance is in place. The industry body for commercial pest control is the South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA ). Make sure that your Pest Control service provider can produce their membership certificate. If you have a food establishment and are regularly audited by a third party food safety auditor you need to have an on-site pest control file containing all the necessary information amongst other the required certificates, chemical safety data sheets, proof of service and infestation trends. Your Pest Control service provider is responsible to keep this file up to date with all the required information, ready for an audit at any given day.
It is important to note that pesticides are poisonous and formulated with a specific active ingredient to “kill” a specific pest species. Many of the products can be hazardous to people, especially when stored, handled, applied, or disposed of incorrectly. Hence the importance of a trained and registered service provider doing the treatment for you.
Pesticides used in the retail sector are generally grouped into five broad categories depending on the purpose they are applied for:
- Herbicides which are used against weeds. This can be used in a retail environment in a mall parking lot to ensure that weeds do not encroach through the paved road surface. Herbicides are taken up by the leaves or the roots of the weed, causing it to die.
- Insecticides that, as the name suggests, destroy harmful insects like cockroaches, flies, ants as well as stored product insects. Many of which are found in retail environments causing damages to stock, resulting in financial losses.
- Fungicides, which acts against fungi, are sometimes applied in fresh produce packing plants. Generally used to extend shelf life of vegetable and fruits.
- Acaricides and Nematicides which protect plants from mites and nematodes. In a retail environment you would want to protect plants in garden centres and retail nurseries.
- Finally there are Rodenticides. These anti-coagulant rodent baits are effective against rats and mice that destroy stock and invade shop sales floors as well as warehousing. These products will be used with care by your service provider as they can cause secondary poisoning of non-target species if not applied correctly.
Your Pest Control service provider should mitigate the risks associated with Pesticides by:
- Choosing the correct registered pesticide product for the infestation.
- Being familiar with and having intimate knowledge of the product label as well as active ingredients, including any safety or exclusion measures to be followed.
- Determining the correct dosage, dilution or mixing.
- Applying the product responsibly, safely and correctly to manage risk for you, your customers and the general public.
- Ongoing monitoring of pest activity ensuring that the use of chemical pesticides is limited to “only when necessary”.
- Storing and disposing of pesticides and empty containers properly and in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Having a cradle to grave audit trail on all pets control treatments and procedures.
Retail consumer behaviour is a complex field, influenced by many economic and cultural factors. It is a fact though that consumers put value in the cosmetic appearance of fresh produce as well as other goods, therefore their purchasing decision will be negatively influenced by pest damaged stock.
The traditional consumer trade-off between “good looking“ products through chemical pest control versus damaged products (no chemicals used) has started changing, as the public endeavour to lead healthier lives and are acutely aware of the need to protect our environment. Therefore the need to apply a multifaceted integrated approach to pest control is crucial. Consumers want to buy cosmetically pleasing fresh products but are also aware of the dangers that chemicals pose to them.
Make sure that your Pest Control service provider actively practice Integrated Pest Management thereby maximising efficacies gained from Cultural, Biological and Chemical procedures to ensure a safe, pest free shopping experience and availability of premium quality products.