New Pest Control Policy in Provincially Licensed Meat Plants

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has implemented a pest control policy which contributes to maximizing food safety. The policy also ensures that a fair, consistent and timely approach will be taken by meat inspection staff in response to the presence or activity of pests, more particularly rodents within provincially licensed meat plants.

Pest presence or activity inside a meat plant poses a significant risk to food safety as they may lead to contamination of ingredients, packaging, food contact surfaces and food. Rodent presence or activity is problematic and requires immediate response. Evidence of rodent presence or activity includes droppings, sightings, noises, gnawing, grease marks, nesting and capture of rodents in traps.

Preparing a Written Program

It is a regulatory requirement for meat plants to implement and follow a written pest control program to minimize the risk to food safety. An effective program outlines how:

  • rodents are prevented from entering a meat plant,
  • rodents are removed should they enter the plant environment, and
  • associated food safety risks are mitigated.

The pest control program should identify:

  • the employee responsible for pest control and, if applicable, the external pest control provider.
  • the list of chemicals used, the concentration, the location of use and the method and frequency of application;
  • the locations and type of trap/bait stations used and storage conditions for any pest control products being used;
  • the type and frequency of monitoring activities as well as corrective actions to be taken when monitoring demonstrates that pests are present;
  • the record-keeping requirements for on going pest control activities such as application of pesticides and monitoring and the length of time such records are retained (records must be made on the day of monitoring and kept for at least one year);
  • the measures to be taken to ensure that the plant, and any outside contractor, comply with pest control statutes and regulations, including the requirements that:
        • only registered pesticides, approved for use at meat plants, are used;
        • maximum residue limits are not exceeded;
        • poisonous rodenticides are not used within the plant

While an effective pest control program will help to control pests, some factors or circumstances, such as the following, can lead to rodent presence or activity:

  • Rodents will seek out new food sources and habitats when they have been disturbed (construction, weather, harvesting crops).
  • Plant practices can influence sudden rodent activity (a door left open, build-up of grass and accumulation of refuse, etc.).

Addressing Presence of Rodents in Plants

Even the best prevention program can fail in certain conditions, and despite pest control efforts, rodent presence or activity may be found within a meat plant. Meat inspection staff will consider the risk to food safety, in determining an appropriate response to rodent presence or activity. If at any point there is a risk to food safety, inspection staff will take compliance action to minimize this risk.

Inspection staff will also consider, among other things:

  • the level and location of evidence (e.g. non-direct product areas versus direct product areas);
  • the time of year (e.g. harvesting crops);
  • the history of rodent presence or activity in the plant (e.g. first incidence versus history of rodents);
  • recent plant activity (e.g. a door left open);
  • the presence of a written pest control program;
  • pest control reports

Where evidence of rodent presence or activity is found, meat inspection staff may allow the operations to continue after ensuring all areas of the plant showing evidence of rodent presence or activity are properly cleaned and sanitized.

Inspection staff will complete a follow-up inspection at the plant after 48 hours to determine if there is further evidence of rodent presence or activity. If no further evidence is found the operations may continue without interruption.

If further evidence of rodent presence or activity is found, inspection staff may allow the operations to continue after ensuring all areas of the plant showing evidence of rodent presence or activity are properly cleaned and sanitized prior to returning to service.

Inspection staff will then complete an additional follow-up inspection at the plant after 24 hours (i.e. 72 hours after initially finding evidence of pests) to determine if there is further evidence of rodent presence or activity. If no further evidence is found the operations may continue without interruption.

If further evidence is found, inspection staff will take compliance action which may include issuing a compliance order to stop operations in the affected areas of the plant until there is clear evidence that rodent presence or activity has ceased. Operations in the affected areas will only resume upon written area manager approval which will be granted when there is no evidence of rodent presence or activity, the plant is properly cleaned and sanitized and the compliance order is lifted.

Operator's Responsibility

While the pest control policy outlines a response by meat inspection staff to rodent presence or activity within provincially licensed meat plants, it remains the responsibility of plant operators to ensure they meet all the requirements of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 and Ontario Regulation 31/05, including the requirements for pest control.

OMAFRA meat inspection staff are committed to working with meat plants to provide education to operators and feasible options to achieve compliance.

Resources Available to Operators

Meat Plant Guidelines C9.06.07.01 Pest Control Program
O. Reg. 31/05 sections 14 (1) (d), 15 (1) (f), 15 (5) and 48 outline the regulatory requirements as they relate to pest control.

The pest control policy is available online to members of the Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP) at www.oimp.ca.

To request a copy of the pest control policy, contact OMAFRA at 1-877-424-1300 or foodinspection@ontario.ca.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Local: (519) 826-4047
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 24 November 2010
Last Reviewed: 24 November 2010