European regulations around food safety and pest control. Are they coherent?

“In case of a mill, food quality and safety are at the top of the list of objectives. Pests need to be controlled effectively and safely. So the need of strong and coherent legislation, certification and top pest control professionals that work according to these rules and legislations, is totally important for the whole milling sector.pdweert

Peter de Weert
International Pest Control Manager
Peterson Pest Control

 All companies active in the milling sector, are per definition working in an international playing field. Both raw commodities and final products are globally sourced and traded. To be able to guarantee high level quality products from start to finish of the supply chain it is important to be able to count upon good and coherent rules and regulations in all countries where such a supply chain is active.

Unfortunately, governmental rules and regulations are not always coherent between countries, although the EU is a very active advocate of equal rules and regulations in all its member states, which more and more transcend national legislation. Next to legislation, certification is a very strong tool for assessing that a commodity or a business meets the required quality standards.

Legislation about pest control in regards to food safety is generally divided among several areas, including various aspects of food safety itself, but also environmental law on pesticide use, health and safety, wildlife, agricultural law and laws concerning animal cruelty. The legislation can become quite strict because of the fact that in pest control, often toxic substances and foodstuffs are used close to each other.

Legislation generally specifies broad requirements for food safety (including pest control) while quality standards and best practices specify requirements in much greater detail. On a broad level the most important laws are:

-General food law in the EU

-Food hygiene law

The EU General Food Law has a major requirement for traceability and responsibility for withdrawal and recall of contaminated food on food operators (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, Articles 18 and 19). This includes importers, producers, processors, manufacturers and distributors. The main legislation affecting food processors in the EU is Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs. This contains general clauses that give broad guidelines for operating. According to the EU Regulation (EU) No 852/2004, food business operators are required to prevent animals and pests from causing contamination by taking the appropriate, adequate, measures. Operators are furthermore required to conform to the appropriate EU and national legislations on the control of hazards to prevent contamination from air, soil, water and biocides.

The latter is a bit problematic because of the fact that national legislations, for example on the use of pesticides or on the qualifications of pest control technicians, are very different between EU countries.

To prevent resistance in rodent populations and to prevent that toxic substances are added to the environment in unnecessary volumes, since 1-1-2017 in the Netherlands, if a pest management company wants to use anticoagulants (rodenticides) to protect buildings and food production and -storage facilities against rodents, a full certification in accordance with the certification scheme ‘IPM Rodencontrol’ is required. The operators, such as pest control technicians, must hold a certificate of professional competence and work according to the most recent version of the ‘Handbook on the management of rat populations for buildings and food storage facilities’. The government has determined this and the scheme is regulated by the ‘The Board for the authorization of plant protection products and biocides’, a governmental body. Only certified companies are able to buy certain anticoagulant rodenticides. In the UK, pesticide regulation is arranged under the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The UK also has The Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR), an older UK national scheme which covers various pest control products that contain active substances, which are not yet regulated. In Belgium, all these products are freely available for purchase.

In the Netherlands a ten-week course including extensive technical knowledge and a theoretical and practical exam is required to obtain the certificate of professional competence, while in many other countries anyone can start to work as a pest controller.

To really make sure that you obtain the best possible quality services on food safety, including pest control, there are various global certification schemes that can help streamline this approach. The standard hazard analysis within HACCP should always include an assessment of risk from pests and pest control products, for example. Other food standards even state specific pest control procedures and requirements for compliance with that standard.

Some of those standards are:

-BRC Global Standard for Food Safety

-IFS — Food and IFS Food

-GlobalGAP

The pest control industry itself, within the EU this is an industry with a turnover of more than € 3,000 million generated by 10.000 companies with over 40.000 employees, also has systems in place to come to a coherent quality of pest control companies. The Confederation of European Pest Management Associations (CEPA) and its members have recently developed a European standard (EN) for the pest management industry in collaboration with the European Standards Institute (CEN).

This European standard specifies the requirements, recommendations and basic competences under which pest management service companies must operate to meet the needs of their customers, where it doesn’t matter if they are private companies, public authorities or the general public. The standard will create awareness that the pest management industry is very important for the maintenance of health and hygiene. The initiative has already contributed a lot to controlling unprofessional practices and thus provides a lot of support for a type of companies that are so important to protect the public, buildings and businesses.

Thus, when using toxic substances to control pest populations, strict governmental and industry rules and best practices apply. There are also additional pest control methods that do not require toxic substances but are very successful.

These are:

-IPM monitoring and mechanical trapping of rodents. This requires specific attention and a rigorous approach by a strong professional.

-Heat treatment of specific production area’s and empty silos (above 56C no pests survive),

-Controlled atmosphere on products (grain and flour) in chambers or silos (below 1% oxygen no pests survive)

In case of a mill, food quality and safety are at the top of the list of objectives. Pests need to be controlled effectively and safely. So the need of strong and coherent legislation, certification and top pest control professionals that work according to these rules and legislations, is totally important for the whole milling sector.

 

 

 

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