Rise of rodent risk in food industries

Rodents are vicious creatures and they have been plaguing the food industry for a very long time. The presence of rodents in food production areas has always been unacceptable. Rodents, especially roof rats and brown rats, find a haven in food facilities. There is plenty of food, a continuous supply of water and many hiding spaces where they can nest and breed. As the family of rats grows in size, they become more aggressive in scavenging for more food.


While rats like cleaning their coat, they do not bathe, therefore, they become moving carriers of germs and bacteria like E-coli and Salmonella. Rats eat with their paws, so they leave behind morsels and crumbs of their food; therefore, contaminating the rest of the food – even if they ate only a piece of a loaf of bread, one can expect the rest of the loaf to be full of their germs. Rats and other rodents are also highly territorial, marking their food with urine.

Rodents have strong well developed front teeth called incisors. These four teeth grow six inches in length a year and the rodent must gnaw and chew to wear them down. The enamel on a rodent’s incisors extremely hard and is often compared to the hardness of a steel blade of a pocketknife. When rodents gnaw and chew, they exert a force of about 7000 pounds per square inch. Because of their strong jaws and teeth, rodents can successfully gnaw on a variety of materials. They gnaw and chew to gain access to food industries. Rodents also will gnaw and chew to reach a source of food. Rats are dangerous and destructive. Rats may consume up to 35% of the harvestable crop. In addition, they invade stored products as well.

The loss of foods due to insects or rodent infestation costs the food industry hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Thus the simple presence of these pests results in a large economic loss. In Asia alone, annual food losses due to rodents would be enough to feed 200 million people. One of the countries hardest hit by rodent infestations is Indonesia, it is a country with 14 million undernourished inhabitants and domestic grain losses due to rodents would be enough to feed 39 million people.

Let us look at some recent news articles pertaining to rodent damage in the food industry sector:

Food seized from Minnesota warehouse due to infestation of rodents

Jun, 22, 2017, Tribune Willmar, Minn

Federal officials seized food from a St. Paul warehouse alleging that rodents had infested the facility.

U.S. Marshals seized about $73,000 worth of food on May 26 from Professional Warehouse and Distribution following a failed U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection.

“The storage conditions in the warehouse were simply unacceptable, and the FDA took action to protect Americans,” Melinda Plaisier, the FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

Food seized included more than 8,000 bags of pasta, 18,000 pounds of barley flour and 12,000 pounds of red pepper spice.

The Food and Drug Administration reported that they warned warehouse owners after two 2015 inspections that the unsanitary conditions would lead to food failing federal standards.

The warehouse owners promised to clean up, but the FDA said inspectors found, even more, problems on May 25.

“The current 2017 FDA inspection, however, has revealed … the unsanitary conditions within the facility have become much more severe,” a complaint about forfeiture reads.

Inspectors reported “widespread vermin activity:” rodents and insects had made their homes among the food.

“FDA Investigators observed two dead rodents in the food storage area …. rodent excreta pellets too numerous to count in, on, and around containers of food product; several containers of food which had been rodent gnawed; food bagging with stains characteristic of rodent urine; and rodent nesting material between food pallets,” the complaint reads.

 Rodent infestation forces KB Natural Foods recall

Feb 20, 2013, William Reed, Business News

KB Natural Foods is recalling three batches of its own-label-pre-packaged cashew nuts and almonds because of rodent infestation.

The company’s packing plant was served with a hygiene emergency prohibition notice after rodents were discovered at its premises. The foods standards agency has issued a product recall information notice covering six cashew and almond nut products.

The affected products were sold in packs ranging in size from 150g to 700g.

Emergency shutdown for food manufacturer after extensive rodent infestation

Jan 14, 2013, Business News

After noticing rodent infestation in Snax 4 U at spring burn a sandwich manufacturer was shut down as an emergency measure. The food standard agency after investigating found 3,500 of its wraps and rolls with rodent infestation.

The FSA is trying to track down the recalled products which may have been distributed outside the boundaries of Glasgow.

 Food industries do need effective and durable repellents. Hence a permanent solution is available with C Tech Corporation in the form of the product called as Rodrepel™.

Rodrepel™ is non-toxic, non-mutagenic, non-dangerous and eco-friendly safe rodent repellent. Rodrepel does not only kill but keep the rodents away by making use of sensory mechanisms.

The product is available in three forms: masterbatch, liquid concentrate, and lacquer.

The masterbatch can be incorporated into the polymeric storage containers used to store food. The racks and pallets used in the storerooms can be incorporated with our products.

The product available in the form of liquid concentrate can be mixed with paint and used to paint the interior and exterior of the warehouses, storage rooms, food transfer vehicles etc.

The product available in the form of lacquer form is a direct application and can be applied on the wooden racks and pallets, metal storage devices, already installed wires and cables etc. from the food storage areas.

The product triggers a fear response in rodents thus protecting the application. It causes severe temporary distress to the mucous membrane of the rodents due to which the pest stays away from the application. The product triggers an unpleasant reaction in case if the pest tries to gnaw away the application. After encountering the above-mentioned emotions, the animal instinctively perceives it with something it should stay away from and stores this information for future reference. The fact that certain rodents are repelled is mimicked by other rodents as well. Thus, the other rodents too stay away from the applications. The unpleasant experience is imprinted within the animal’s memory and passed on to its progeny.

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