Food Engineering

Out, out darn pest

August 5, 2004
World's largest cheese plant uses pest management system to eliminate the possibility of unwanted guests.

Golden Cheese uses a variety of non-pesticide treatments, such as the air curtain shown above, to eliminate potential pest entry points. Source: Orkin Commercial Services.
The truth is: cattle attract flies. Yet, many types of food products depend upon cattle, including, of course, cheese. At Golden Cheese Company's Corona, CA plant, preventing flies and other pests from entering the plant is critical to the company's success.

"We have the most sophisticated, fully-integrated cheese and whey processing facility in the world," says Dawn Amundson, director of quality assurance for Dairy Farmers of America, the cooperative that owns Golden Cheese.

The company's 420,000-sq. ft. plant processes more than two billion pounds of milk to produce more than 183 million pounds of house brand and private label cheeses annually.

In the Corona area, cattle attract a wide spectrum of flies, from common houseflies to fruit flies, drain flies and blowflies. "To combat these, we required a highly trained pest management professional who understands our business and is well-versed in HACCP protocols and good manufacturing practices," continues Amundson. "We also needed someone who understands the specific needs of our food processing facility and who has great documentation and communication skills. We worked with Orkin because we felt they could help us maintain our reputation for high quality."

To help, Orkin Commercial Services custom designed a protection program for the plant. Professional entomologists and pest management experts lead the program, which includes state-of-the-art baiting and monitoring systems to deter or eliminate a variety of pests. "The program is subject to the most stringent third party compliance audits, which include routine inspections by our customers like Kraft Foods and regular audits by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Institute of Baking and rabbis responsible for Kosher approval," says Amundson.

Flies can be eliminated in a number of ways, including installing flytraps in the building or luring them away from critical areas with ultra-violet light. Much of Orkin's effort is fact finding to ascertain the root causes of any emerging flies. "We check the types of flies we trap because we will know more about the source of the pests," says Zia Siddiqi, director of quality assurance for Orkin Commercial Services in Atlanta. "If we see a blow fly in a trap, we know there is animal protein in the area. If we find fruit flies, we may check the cleanliness of drains."

Hand-held recording devices are used in the plant to record inspections and to keep a computerized history of the control measures. A bar code at each station registers a check-off report. The program also includes interior and exterior rodent control measures, barriers such as screen doors and air curtains, and a mix of repellant and attractant measures to drive away or kill pests.

"Orkin Commercial Services has taken the worry and frustration out of our plant inspections," says Amundson. "They know how to communicate with our staff, document pest-related information and, most importantly, keep pests out of our facility."

For more information:
Dave Peraza, Orkin Commercial Services, 909-276-0777