Rijk Mallee, advisor at EWS Germany, takes us through the project…
Food storage and processing facilities are often facing insect infestation. Despite the fact that there are tailored IPM (Integrated Pest Management) protocols in place focusing on prevention, monitoring and control of incoming goods, problems with storage pests do occur.
Flour and corn mills in particular require special attention when it comes to keeping pests out. And once they are in, they are very hard to get rid of. If insects have entered all cracks and crevices of a building, treatment of the entire mill is required in order to ensure food safety.
Setting out the approach
“I had been in contact with this particular client on several occasions”, Rijk starts off. “At one point it turned out they were experiencing pest control challenges. They invited me around and, together with their quality manager, we took a tour of the mill to take stock of the infested areas.”
“The infestations were such that local treatments would have been inadequate”, Rijk continues. “In close consultation with the client, our specialist team set out an approach, taking into account the layout of the mill, the area in square meters, the volume of each area, the number of floors, the machinery present, the construction material of the walls, etc.”
“In order to achieve good results, it is imperative that we work together with the client, as partners”, Rijk elaborates. “Before treatment, the building needs to be clean and empty. After treatment, suggestions by EWS need to be taken seriously. These include no garbage close to the facility, no vacuum cleaners left in corners etc. An effective treatment requires a joint effort!”
EWS Group proposed two types of treatments
Fumigation is an extremely efficient method for killing all stages of SPI. The gas penetrates deeply into the building, into the transport systems, filters, everything.
The fumigation is preceded by thorough preparation. The building must be made gas-tight. For this, EWS makes a complete floor plan of all entrances and passages in the building together with the client. Connections to other, non-fumigated parts must also be mapped and closed.
The use of poison gas comes with risks. EWS has extensive experience in widely differing fumigations and ensures a safe execution for all parties involved. Throughout the process, gas concentrations are monitored via on-line measuring systems. Thanks to the volatile properties of the fumigant, ventilation afterwards is smooth, so that the building can soon be re-entered.
Heat treatment is a non-toxic treatment and, like fumigation, a highly efficient method of killing all stages of SPI. By increasing the temperature, insects will start to die from 45°C. This by coagulation of their proteins. Not only does this kill the adult insects, but also the larvae and eggs.
In industrial mills or food processing facilities, the treatment of EWS consists in reaching a temperature of 50-55°C throughout the whole building. In order to achieve this, EWS uses specially developed heating units. These gradually heat up the building. Slow heating (and cooling afterwards) is necessary to prevent damage to the building and the installations.
This treatment is extremely suitable for companies that handle organic goods, as no chemical agents are used. What’s more, after the treatment, the building is immediately available again.
“Every mill is different. Heat treatment would have been a great option overall. It is less costly than fumigation, it is non-toxic and it doesn’t affect the electronics as gas may do”, Rijk explains.
“However, there simply wasn’t enough space in the upper part of the mill to accommodate the equipment we use for heat treatment. That’s why, for the silos, we opted for fumigation. Like that, we could still treat the entire mill”, he concludes.