Cold weather is on its way. For food facilities, that means more rodents and critters are seeking easy access to food and warmer temperatures, two things many plants can provide. But your plant doesn’t have to become a hotel for unwanted guests. To mitigate the threat of rodents and bolster food safety, pest management company McCloud Services compiled a list of steps to take to keep them out of food plants this fall and winter.

 “In food facilities, higher rodent activity can occur during the fall and winter months, especially when a facility is located in an agricultural area,” says Patricia Hottel, technical director of McCloud. “The availability of food, water and shelter should be minimized inside and outside the facility.”

According to Hottel, author of the recent report “Preventing Rodent Migrations,” all types of facilities can take preventative steps to improve food safety. Some of exterior prevention strategies include:

-Keeping dumpster areas/pads free of food waste

-Selecting plants that are less attractive to rodents

-Avoiding ground cover and low-growing plants

-Maintaining a vegetation-free barrier close to the building and ensuring trees and shrubs do not touch the structure

-Keeping bulk unloading areas as clean as possible and avoiding spillage

-Keeping doors closed when not in use and maintaining seals to exclude pests when doors are closed-Making sure openings around pipe/wall junctures and other utility lines are sealed

-Fixing leaks and drainage issues to keep water sources to a minimum

-Installing equipment on the exterior for monitoring and controlling rodent activity.

Interior exclusion methods should also be taken such as following proper sanitation procedures, reducing access to harborage and minimizing water sources, Hottel says. Rodent monitoring devices can also be used to check the effectiveness of exterior defenses and alert the pest management professional of additional steps and changes to make.

In addition, food facility staff should regularly inspect shipments to make sure mice or rats are not hiding or nesting in pallet loads, and regular inspections should be conducted to look for rodents and signs of their existence. These potential signs can include droppings, gnawing, noises, holes and damaged food packaging.

More on McCloud’s pest prevention tips can be found here.