Pest Management for Food Safety and Organic Integrity

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Pest Management as a Food Safety Prerequisite Program

Food Safety and Organic Integrity Depend on it.

The emphasis on food safety has never been greater in my 40 year association with the food industry. Structural pest management has been long held as one of the essential food safety perquisite programs. People do not like bugs, especially in their food. Yet the use of pesticides and how "safe" they are remains a point of high conjecture for many consumers.

With the implementation of the USDA’s Organic Food Production Act of 1990 and the current trends for food safety under the United State's Food Safety Modernization Act, the landscape for pest management in food facilities has changed. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) initially laid the groundwork for reducing pesticide use but in some ways fails to provide an adequate working model for pest management. 

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) under its many schemes goes further in helping the food industry to go further in standardizing their food safety and food quality practices and requires a strict documentation throughout the production and processing of food products.

The Organic Food Product act requires the use of and Audit Trail, in which non-toxic pest management practices are used first, and yet without much, if any substantiating paperwork, pesticides not approved under he National Organic Program may still be used.

Pest management is an essential prerequisite program in any food safety plan. Proper design of a program to conform to third party standards, problem solving techniques utilizing Root Cause Analysis and understanding of Organic Management Practices are essential to the proper implementation of a structural Pest Management program. The philosophy used to view and solve problems will influence the manner in which pest problems are solved. This philosophy of science is incorporated in the Organic Structural Pest Management model, or OSPM, applies to all aspects of food safety and quality management.

This book should not only provide additional insights and background for Pest Management Practitioners, but should prove to provide valuable insights and perspectives for quality assurance, food safety personnel, inspectors and auditors alike.

L. Ernest Otter, III has spent over 40 years in the pest management industry and as a food safety advisor and mentor. In that time he has prepared and managed countless food safety programs for clients. Ernest also presented the first paper on Organic Structural Pest Management at the International Federation of Agriculture Movement's 13th Scientific Conference. This book details the 30 years of experiences since the presentation of that original paper.

Chapter Overview


Chapter 1


Pest management and a life long journey.

In both food safety and in the organic foods movement, I have been able to witness some profound changes in our food supply.

In the forty-years of working in pest management and the past twenty-five as a food safety professional, I have seen many changes in these industries. Both topics are of extreme interest to me and I have been able to work with many hundreds of clients in multiple aspects of the food chain. In understanding the regulations and the many private sector food safety standards, I have been a able to develop some broad perspectives on the food industry. 

I am presenting this experience in this book, Beyond-IPM. My hope is that many young food industry professionals, from pest management professionals, to quality assurance professionals and food safety auditors alike, will be able to take in these perspectives and experience to serve them in long, successful careers in the food industry.


Chapter 2

Philosophy of Science

Since the 1920's and before, farmers, scientists, philosophers of science alike have questioned the effects of all of the nitrogen and synthetic pesticides that are being used in modern conventional agriculture.  (Key names of players at the time...) and Rodent Rodale can probably be most credited with popularizing the organic gardening and foods movements. 

But how does this translate to the food handlers and food processors and food retailers that are integral parts of our food chain? What is there part in maintaining the Organic Integrity that was established at the farm level?

The perspectives of these founding fathers of the organic movement were not just concerned about what pesticides they used or did not use, it was a way of looking at problems, the way they problem solved. It was a philosophy of science.


Chapter 3

Food Safety & Organic Integrity

Food Safety and Organic Integrity go hand-in-hand. It is a moral and legal responsibility of every member of the food chain. From before the farm gate, to the trucks that convey our food products to market, to the many food handlers and food processors along the way, food safety must be assured. And for those products marketed as Organic, a comprehensive Audit Trail must be developed to maintain the Organic Integrity of those commodities.


Chapter 4

Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment is the foundation of modern food safety programs. Assumptions of risk and inattention to unidentified risks must be driven out of food safety programs, and your pest management program is no exception. Many concepts already exist within your food safety program that need to be applied to your pest management plan.



Organic Pesticides

Certified Organic Processing and Handling facilities need to operate under an Organic Handling Plan. A part of this plan must consider what pesticides are to be used in the pest management program. But the question of which pesticides are selected for your company's Approved Chemical Program goes far beyond simply choosing a product that you think will conform to the USDA's National Organic Program's Allow List. What the material is, how it is formulated, how is is to be used, the level of training and experience of the applicator, the maintenance and calibration of the equipment used to apply the materials and your documentation of the approval and application process are all essential elements of a strong, auditable, Organic Handling Plan.



Not Just Food Safety

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and the the USDA National Organic Program both codify the minimum requirements for handling our food. 

Consumers expect their food supply to be safe. Without thinking about it, this is the expectation. The consumers of Organic products expect these products to represent some else. Something more. Some expect it to be pesticide free. Some organic consumers make the additional investment because they want to play a part in reducing the use of the synthetic materials associated with conventional agriculture.

Whatever the motivation, consumers deserve a safe food supply, and a growing number of consumers prefer, and pay for a food chain that provides what they believe are these additional benefits.



Quality Management 

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Case Studies

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Release Date Late 2024

Check back for the publication date.