Safe Quality Food (SQF)

The establishment of an Safe Quality Food (SQF) pest control program is part of the SQF certification requirements and becomes an overlay of a food processing facility.  The SQF program is based on the common sense scientific approach to pest control called Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Mission Statement

To deliver consistent, globally recognized food safety and quality certification programs based on sound scientific principles, consistently applied across all industry sectors, and valued by all stakeholders.
The pest control portion of your SQF Audit is assessed by observation from an outside food safety auditing company (Silliker, Inc. (a Mérieux NutriSciences company), AIB International, Inc.). 

The biggest challenges facing the Pest Management Professional (PMP) when partnering in an SQF program are:

  • Gaining complete commitment from upper management.
  • Securing funds for the establishment and constant maintenance of the pest control program.
  • Establishing a line of effective accountable communication within the organization to provide a pest-free environment

Food Safety Audit Pest Control

Standard Silliker Inc.’s pest control audit has 11 sections, each worth a maximum of 5 points each.  Points are earned or deducted from your score depending upon:How your monitoring system is setup and maintained.The documentation and collection of data from functioning systems.The effectiveness of your pest control program. 

SQF Standards

SQF minimum standards require that a permanent rodent and insect monitoring system be established on the interior and exterior walls of a food processing facility and inspected on a periodic basis. The following are the SQF minimum standard requirements:

  • Facility has an adequate number of interior pest-control devices spaced typically 20-40 ft. apart.
  • Mechanical stations should be within 10 ft. of both sides of doors leading to the exterior, including dock doors.
  • Devices should be placed in dry storage, coolers, locker rooms and lunchrooms.
  • Adequate number of tamper-resistant exterior bait stations around the exterior of building spaced between 25-50 ft. apart and secured in place.
  • Bait is secured within the side of tamper-proof bait station.
  • Bait stations are checked monthly.
  • A proper number/color code corresponding to all devices be placed on a location chart.
  • Live-catch devices and glue boards are inspected bi-monthly.
  • PCO must initial and date recording label, or punch card or scan a barcode on each pest control device.
  • No rodent bait is allowed inside facility.
  • All pest control devices must be clean and properly functioning.
  • All pest control devices must be appropriately placed so as not to contaminate product, packaging, or equipment.No evidence of decomposing pests anywhere.  
  • No evidence of insects, rodents, birds, pets on/or in any food ingredient, product, or packaging. 
  • Insect light traps and flying insect traps can be used.
  • ILT and FIT must be cleaned and dated on a scheduled basis.
  • There must be a schedule for replacing sticky boards.
  • Bulbs must be changed at least annually, and shatter protection must be in place. 
  • No avicides can be used or found inside of facility. 
  • All pesticides and chemicals used for pest control on premises are stored, and labeled properly.
  • SQF also requires that you have on premises the following paperwork from your PCO
  • Valid and current pest control business registration
  • Valid and current commercial applicators licenses.
  • Current and valid insurance certificate

Graduate Pest Control’s Pest Control Program (Meets SQF Requirements)

  • Establishment of a 12-inch wide white perimeter line around all interior perimeter walls of warehouse, shipping and receiving areas. 
  • Installation of interior glue trap stations and exterior snap trap stations , fly light traps, insect-o-cutors,  and insect lure traps.
  • Tethering of all glue traps and snap trap stations to permanent locations, and identifying location with placard and scannable barcode inside of each device.
  • Placement of scannable barcodes on exit doors, bay doors, and overhead doors.
  • Placement of glue trap stations in accessible hung ceiling areas.
  • Establishment of a numbered location cart of all glue trap and snap trap stations, fly lights, lure traps, exit doors, bay doors and overhead doors.

Graduate Pest Control and its SQF-certified clients decided to move away from the use of rodenticides around the exterior of their facility in 2005.  After analyzing the data collected during our first two years of inspection, we found that the rate of purification to all bait blocks used in the exterior tamper-proof bait stations was so prevalent that the stations where deemed ineffective due to  extreme weather conditions. We replaced the use of rodenticide with rat snap-trap stations. Silliker and AIB both approved this change. Any removal of pesticide use also complies with organic certification standards.  

The following is a list of extreme weather conditions that affected the efficacy of rodent bait-block purification.

  • Prolonged extreme summer heat temperatures.
  • Long periods of rain.
  • High humidity levels.
  • Long periods of snow cover.

The Graduate Pest Control System of Monitoring 

“Heightened consumer demand for increased food safety assurances moves down the chain with retailers and service providers asking suppliers to provide verifiable proof that robust food safety control systems have been effectively implemented. These systems must have been properly validated and show evidence of continuous monitoring procedures.”

After establishing the Pest Control Zone monitors, the facility is inspected weekly.This has become the norm because food processing facilities are living breathing entities that face daily stress to its internal and external structures.

 Stresses include:

  • Vibrations
  • Structural settling
  • Age and normal wear and tear
  • Water
  • Grease
  • Rust
  • Freezing and thawing
  • Poorly constructed windows and doors
  • Constant pest probing of building

Each zone monitor and pest control device is scanned by a mobile hand device with proprietary software that has been developed by Graduate Pest Control. Pupa Tek allows each inspect-able device to be time and date stamped.  Technicians are capable of recording everything found in and around the device.  Sanitation, housekeeping, landscaping, and structural deficiencies can also be documented.    The SQF-required service report is constructed from the collected data from these zone monitors. The service report is then electronically sent via email in a PDF to the facility sanitarian or plant manger.  The following list contains the specific data collected from our monitoring system:

  • Client Name
  • Technician Name
  • Date of service
  • The time each pest control device was inspected
  • Data findings
  • The measures done to correct any findings
  • Pesticide use (if necessary)Equipment and type of application and amount
  • Comments concerning correctable deficiencies

Exclusionary work   

A quarterly analytical report is generated to summarize pest activities and sanitary and structural deficiencies. This information is given to Silliker auditors during a third-year inspection so that they do not have to review each individual inspection.  This report is also sent via email in a PDF form to the facility sanitarian of plant manager. SQF requests that all reports for the current year be printed out and placed in a readily accessible binder for inspection.  Storing previous years inspections on a readily accessible server is also recommended by SQF in the event of a recall of product or lawsuit.Graduate Pest Control System of Identification Identification is the science and art of being able to identify all of the animals and objects that are found in and around your zone monitors. Being able to catch a mouse, rat, or insect is just the beginning of the story.  Identifying where pests travel, take up residence, and enter a facility are all critical to eradicating a pest problem.

Graduate Pest Control System of Exclusion 

Exclusion is the science and art of being able to correct structural deficiency that allows pests to become a problem. Food processing facilities structural integrity is key to the process of maintaining a pest-free environment.  Inspecting and correcting structural deficiencies in a correct and timely manner is critical to the prevention of pest invasion.  In the course of conducting a weekly audit and identifying any structural deficiency,  a one week grace period (unless the problem is so severe that an outside contract has to come in and solve the problem) is given to the facility maintenance department to make the necessary corrections before Graduate Pest Control makes corrective chargeable  exclusionary repairs.

Structural changes that Graduate Pest Control has corrected:

  • Installation of sheet metal to repair openings around pipes, doors, and corners.The use of cementing to fill floor holes and wall bases.
  • Installation of hardware cloth to seal off air vents.Installation of industrial strength door sweeps.
  • Screening off of building ledges. Installation of overhead door cowl enclosures. 
  • Weed and leaf removal. 

Pesticide Usage

The use of pesticides in an SQF facility is an ultimate, last-case scenario.  We explore every alternative course of action prior to the administration of pesticides and do not take its use lightly.  Our goal is provide pest-free environments in the most environmentally and economically safe way.  


Yellow Jacket Control

In cases where the food processing facility attracts large amounts of yellow jackets,Wasp lure buckets and vacuum devices are established around the facility to reduce the population of yellow jackets so as to protect facility employees and reduce product  contamination.

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