If you think that your integrated pest management program is SQF compliant because it is outsourced to a 3rd party pest control operator (PCO), then you may be mistaken. Many PCOs have limited experience complying with SQF requirements. You must talk with your PCO to make sure that they have experience complying with SQF. If they do not, then they must work with your SQF consultant to get compliant, or you should really consider switching PCO’s. I had a good experience this year with a pest control company in New Jersey. They had their internal QA person physically come and visit the client before their audit and review and update their program. They also responded quickly to non-conformances after the audit. I felt that they were good partners to their client. They had the knowledge and the willingness to work with them to get the job done.
Most SQF auditors spend a significant amount of time reviewing the supplier’s pest control system. When you are planning for your SQF audit, check these often cited non-conformances to make sure:
• Your program is thoroughly documented. There should be a detailed procedure which must include the frequency of routine visits, the target pests, the methods of pest control, and planned corrective actions when pests are found.
• The management team must review and approve a list of all chemicals that may be used by the PCO.
• The pest control monitoring records must be usable for trending. Many PCO’s use cards that are tucked into each trap, dating each inspection. The cards are good for making sure that the technician actually opens up the trap, but not useful for trending effectiveness. There must be a separate trending sheet used to verify the effectiveness of the program.
• The traps and maps are up to date. All of the traps must be numbered and there must be a corresponding wall sign for each trap. All traps must be accounted for and in their correct location.
• The integrated pest management system includes staff awareness training. Your employees must be trained to know the target pests and control practices. They must understand their roll and managements roll in reducing the likelihood of pest problems in the facility. For example, employees need to know what to do if they come in contact with poisons. They need to know what to do if they observe pest activity.
While the integrated pest management program represents a relatively small portion of the audit, it is notorious for being cited during the SQF audit. And, while most pest control issues are minor non-conformances, it is always better to anticipate them in your current system and correct them before your auditor cites them during your audit.