A Hot Topic Among Bakers

NPMA Commercial Committee delivers a presentation to AIB International on electronic pest monitoring

Food manufacturers and the pest-management companies they rely upon have a new tool for ensuring food safety as part of an integrated pest-management strategy. That was the message delivered in June by the NPMA Commercial Committee, which was invited to give a presentation on electronic pest monitoring to AIB International.

AIB International, formerly known as the American Institute of Baking, held a training seminar for food-safety auditors at its Manhattan, Kan., headquarters in June, and members of the NPMA Commercial Committee attended to represent the industry.

More than 50 food-safety auditors from the United States, India, China, England and the European Union attended the NPMA presentation, which featured a one-hour overview of electronic-monitoring systems followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session.

“It was an excellent meeting,” said Dusana Bondy, quality assurance auditor for Abell Pest Control and chair of the NPMA Commercial Committee. “It’s an emerging technology and an incredible tool that can track and trace pest activity and trigger early detection, but it doesn’t replace the inspection process.”

Bondy said it’s important for the NPMA to conduct outreach and educate third-party auditing groups like AIB International, British Retail Consortium and Safe Quality Food Program. Those entities set the standards by which food manufacturers and pest-management companies are audited, so it’s vital for the NPMA to represent the industry in front of those groups, she said.

“For food manufacturers and processing facilities, passing these food-safety audits is paramount, so we need to make sure that these auditors understand electronic monitoring, because they’re the ones who will be writing standards for the industry,” Bondy said. “As pest-control providers, we report data in the format we do to satisfy these external auditors, so this is another excellent way to do just that.”

The presentation featured an in-depth overview of the current status and future capabilities of electronic-monitoring systems, including online dashboards that track ant, fly, roach and rodent activity. Electronic monitoring can help food manufacturers track the frequency and location of pest activity, providing detailed information such as the direction in which pests entered traps, so that they can take corrective action right away.

By combining improved root-cause analysis with predictive analytics, food manufacturers can target their pest-management efforts to the highest-priority areas in and around their facilities.

One of the main concerns surrounding electronic monitoring is cybersecurity. A breach by hackers could expose a brand to embarrassment and reputational loss if customers come to believe that its food is unsafe. Bondy said the NPMA Commercial Committee emphasized to attendees that providers of electronic-monitoring systems take this risk seriously and have built cybersecurity measures into their platforms.

Tom Jarzynka, senior director of pest prevention quality assurance for Massey Services Inc. and an NPMA Commercial Committee member, said attendees seemed to have a good working knowledge of technological advances in the pest-control industry, and they were grateful to have a partnership with the NPMA.

“As an industry, we will continue to offer new tools and educate customers and auditors on how they work,” he said. “As these new tools come online, we’ll instill confidence and awareness that we’re moving forward with the established expectations for these audited accounts. We’ll actually be in a position to provide a higher level of service and better information.

“The pest-control provider is being measured by these third-party auditors as an extension of the food-manufacturing facility and their ability to provide safe, sound food. Using data collection such as electronic monitoring can enhance the performance of the pest-control industry and our ability to support the customer in meeting their goal, which is providing safe food, so our interests are aligned”.