100 Pigeons. 4800 Pounds of Waste Annually. Over 60 Transmittable Diseases.
Bird control is a critical component of maintaining a clean, contaminant-free environment. You may think that since you don’t have birds inside your facility, birds aren’t a problem for you, but that’s far from the truth. New regulations put in place in January 2011 via the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) put significant emphasis on carefully stewarding food from the farm all the way to the table, which means birds outside are now viewed as a possible contamination risk.
It’s all too common for flocks of pigeons, sparrows, starlings, or other pesky bird species to gather on roofs, in parking lots, near loading and receiving bays, or anywhere food waste accumulates. Unaddressed, the presence of these birds can lead to serious safety and compliance issues.
In addition, the FSMA gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall powers if they simply have reason to believe that a problem could exist; actual evidence of contamination is no longer required. FDA auditors who see the birds roosting in the trees near your unprotected loading dock can cite you for having conditions conducive to contamination from bird droppings even if they do not see evidence of bird droppings in your loading dock.
Make certain you’re not liable for costly FSMA violations by taking action today to comply with FSMA safety regulations. For your protection and the protection of your customers, it’s important that you know and understand the FSMA law, proactively assess and evaluate potential problems in and near your facility, and take smart steps to eliminate and mitigate the risks.
Know the Law
In response to continued threats to public health in the United States from food-borne illnesses, congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011. The FSMA provides enhanced safety regulations on produce from farm to table and on other foods from processing to sale. The FSMA is the first major alteration to food safety laws in 70 years and resulted in the following changes:
- Shifted the focus on food safety from reaction to prevention.
- Gave the FDA more authority to inspect and assure compliance.
- Gave the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls.
- Strengthened safety measures on food imports in to the US.
- Created stronger partnerships between the US government and other related private entities.
To comply with the new regulations, food facilities are required to produce and implement preventive control plans. More specifically, compliance requires you to do the following:
- Register with the FDA biannually
- Evaluate any and all hazards that may affect food safety.
- Identify the preventive controls you will put in place to minimize or prevent the hazards and create a Food Safety Plan.
- Create a plan for monitoring the ongoing effectiveness of those controls.
- Maintain thorough and complete records of your monitoring program.
- Specify corrective actions you will take in the event of problems in a Food Defense Plan.
- Promptly report any problems to the Reportable Food Registry.
These rules require increased documentation and careful record keeping to ensure compliance. They also require that you collaborate carefully with your business partners on record keeping, testing, and certification. If your documents and records are lacking in any way, the FDA can and will impose harsh penalties on your business that could affect your ability to remain a going concern.
Evaluate Your Risks
A significant portion of compliance with FSMA is evaluating the potential risks to your facility and your product. Birds pose a particular challenge in evaluating potential hazards because they easily travel between facilities that are far apart. They can also deliver harmful pathogens via their droppings in a number of ways, both direct and indirect.
The most obvious hazard is from droppings landing directly on food, preparation equipment, shipping materials, or other supplies that come in contact with your product. The indirect hazards are more difficult to detect but are equally dangerous.
Droppings might enter your facility on the bottom of an employee’s shoe or dried, dusty droppings from the roof might enter your facility via HVAC ducts or other vented pathways. To avoid being fined or even shut down, you must carefully and thoroughly evaluate all your risks.
- Be proactive. Look beyond your walls for birds. Are they on the roof? Are they nesting in your parking facility? Where do you see evidence of the presence of birds? If you see evidence, the auditors will surely see evidence, which is cause for failing an audit.
- Recognize that any bird sightings inside or outside may be a cause for concern. Fecal matter, dust, feathers, and nesting materials can travel easily. Birds anywhere your products or your employees go create a potential safety hazard.
- Hire a bird expert such as Bird B Gone to help you evaluate your risk from birds. They can conduct a thorough bird management assessment for your facility and help you understand your situation and what actions need to be taken.
Remember during this process that FDA inspectors can use even the slightest reason to believe there might be a problem to cite you or shut you down. Your personal evaluation of potential risks must be as brutal as an inspection from FDA auditors.
Develop a Food Safety Plan
Once you’ve thoroughly identified potential sources of risk, you must develop a Food Safety Plan to mitigate or eliminate those risks and to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of your plan. Fortunately, there are a number of food-safe and cost-effective bird control solutions available, including the following:
- Exclusion Devices. Exclusion devices, such as spikes, shock tracks, slopes, and nets are designed to prevent birds from congregating on selected surfaces. These devices work very well for removing birds from sensitive, high-value areas, but it’s not generally possible to use exclusion devices on every possible surface in a large facility.
- Trapping Devices. Removing birds is a solution for high-traffic, enclosed areas where relatively small numbers of birds are causing trouble. Nets and traps filled with food and water are humane ways to capture birds safely and release them away from your facility.
- Repellent Devices. The Agrilaser Lite is a safe, silent, effective deterrent for birds that’s useful in preventing birds from entering warehouses and other facilities and encourages them to leave.
Your Food Safety Plan will typically need to involve a combination of these bird control solutions to be effective, as one solution will not be sufficient. Working with the bird control experts at Bird B Gone will help you develop and monitor a bird control program that will keep your product safe from contamination. They will help you with product selection, installation, and cleanup.
Protect yourself from FSMA violations and liability with effective bird control solutions. Get the help you need to evaluate your risks and create an action plan. Avoid expensive citations, product recalls, and fines; let Bird B Gone help you comply with FMSA today.