World Food Day aims to emphasise the crucial importance of food sustainability and security around the globe. One of the critical issues affecting the safety of our food supply is contamination from pests. These cause serious health hazards by spreading diseases and damaging food products. Hence, it is essential to understand the impact of pests on food safety and the role pest control companies play in mitigating their effects. While some insects and microbes are classified as pests due to their detrimental effects on crops, many others play a vital role in promoting plant health and, in turn, human nutrition. Understanding the intricate relationship between these organisms and their food preferences is paramount to harnessing their potential for sustainable food production.
Food contamination from pests poses a significant threat to public health. Rodents, cockroaches, and flies are common carriers of harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can contaminate food and result in foodborne illnesses. These illnesses can range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to severe symptoms that can be life-threatening, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. In addition to health risks, pests also contribute to food waste. When pests infest food storage areas, they consume and contaminate large quantities of food, rendering it unfit for consumption. This leads to significant losses for farmers, suppliers, and consumers alike, exacerbating the already dire issue of food scarcity and insecurity in many parts of the world.
FAO estimates that annually, up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost to pests. Each year, plant diseases cost the global economy over $220 billion and invasive insects at least $70 billion. Twenty percent of the world’s food supply is believed to be contaminated by rodents, according to the International Food Safety and Quality Network. Whether in a food warehouse, processing facility, or storage facility, one of the largest threats rodents poses is the actual damage they cause to the food. Rats are capable of consuming 30 grammes of food each day, meaning 50 rats in a food facility can demolish 23 pounds of food per week. Regrettably, it is not just the direct feeding that causes problems; any products near the direct feeding are also at risk of contamination.
Exterminators PLC, in technical collaboration with Sentario UK Limited, designed, developed, and articulated the PACCP model and strategies. ‘The five-force model in preventive pest management’ begins with the identification of the pest species, investigation and analysis of the risk and hazard, implementation of pest containment strategies, non-chemical pest management, followed-up chemical strategies if required, and continued monitoring to prevent reinfestation. While pests pose a significant threat to food safety and security, through proper pest management strategies, we can reduce the risks of food contamination and waste. World Food Day serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to ensure everyone has access to safe and nutritious food. By recognising the vital role pest control companies play in mitigating the impact of pests on our food supply, we can move closer to achieving food security and sustainability on a global scale. In conclusion, acknowledging the intricate food preferences of beneficial insects and microbes and the feeding habits of insect pests is essential for fostering sustainable food production systems. By harnessing the trophic interactions of these organisms, we can minimise ecological harm, maximise crop yields, and contribute to the nourishment and well-being of both people and the planet.
By Marlon Ferreira – MD – The Exterminators PLC