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InsightsPest Control ServicesPest Control Annual Assessments for Food Safety Departments: Is Your Provider Simply Checking a Box?

Pest Control Annual Assessments for Food Safety Departments: Is Your Provider Simply Checking a Box?

Keith RobinsonJanuary 22, 2020Read time: 6 min

Want to know a dirty, little pest control industry secret?

Many pest control providers have no idea what a true annual assessment looks like or why it’s important.

They know that such assessments are a requirement, but they don’t know why they’re important. They may simply create a form on which they can check a few boxes, place it in a logbook, and call it a day.

You rely on your pest control provider to know what is required, but unless they have adequate training in food safety, they may not understand the importance or the requirements of a legitimate annual assessment.

Know the assessment blueprint

Many third-party audit standards include these annual assessments, which are intended to provide a deep dive into your entire pest management program with the data that has been collected throughout the year.

Most standards require a scheduled meeting between the pest management provider and the client. If done properly, these should take some time to complete. The assessment should be an open discussion of what worked well, what didn’t, and what can be done to improve the program moving forward.

The blueprint of the annual assessment is often spelled out in the third-party audit standard.

However, if your standard does not offer much detail, I’ve outlined the main items that should be covered in the assessment, as well as some of the reasons they could be relevant.

  • The assessment should start with a comprehensive review of your current pest management program to ensure that it meets or exceeds your third-party audit standard. Your pest control program should not be one-size-fits-all. What may have been enough in previous years may not meet today’s standards or effectively address your current pest problems. A leading food safety system is always evolving and looking for new ways to reduce risk, and your pest control program is a critical component of that. Annual assessments should help develop and improve your program.
  • A fresh set of eyes is the key to identifying opportunities for improvement. As a result, these assessments must be done by someone other than your service technician. Ideally, an authority with no ties to your pest control provider. If the assessment is going to be done by a member of your pest control provider’s company, it must be a representative of the firm’s quality control division or a member of their management team—not your service technician. You may have a great technician, and if so, he or she should be involved in the process—but only after the data has been reviewed and the site inspection has been performed. The reason is simple—much like your employees, he or she has spent a significant amount of time in the facility, and when one is familiar with the surroundings, it can be easy to overlook the details.
  • The site inspection is a critical component of the annual assessment. Regardless of whether or not site inspections have been performed in previous years, a recent inspection with a member of your staff is key to an effective and useful assessment.
  • Document review is a major portion of the assessment, and when done at the conclusion of the site inspection, it will often answer many of the questions you had during the inspection itself. The documentation helps you get an accurate picture of what’s been done over the course of the year to allow you to adjust your program based on site-specific needs.

Useful documents in your review

  • Service Tickets: These service tickets are completed each time your pest control provider is onsite. They provide detailed accounts of the service that was performed (e.g. target pests, area where treatment was performed, corrective actions, etc.). These tickets are completed and stored in a logbook onsite and are available for your review at any time. Many providers utilize software systems that can provide them to you in electronic format upon request.
  • Service Agreement: Does the service agreement meet the current requirements of the third-party audit system? Audit standards are frequently updated to ensure improvement in food safety. What may have been an adequate pest control program five years ago may not meet today’s standards. The annual assessment is in place to review your program every year to ensure it meets current standards.
  • Site Map: Your provider should provide a map that shows the location of every control device. The number and location of devices should be crosschecked with service tickets during the annual assessment to ensure all devices are accounted for and inspected on a regular basis.
  • Trending Reports: These reports summarize all pest activity, including sightings, captures, and specific pest counts. This information will help determine if you have an adequate amount of control devices, or if you have too many. It will also help you determine if the frequency of service is adequate in helping to prevent pest activity. In addition, a review of the trending reports will help to identify high risk products and possible vulnerable entry points.

When done properly, these annual assessments will increase the effectiveness of your program and help you retain every available point on your annual audit score.

But in order to do it right and ensure compliance, seek help from trusted advisors and partners in food safety (shameless plug – Fine Tune!), not just a consult with your pest control provider.


Keith Robinson

Keith Robinson

Keith joined Fine Tune in 2019 after spending nearly 30 years in the pest control industry. Previously, Keith worked 17 years at Terminix and built and sold his own PC company. Most recently, Keith served as VP of operations, training, quality assurance and food safety at ABC Home & Commercial Services. In that role, Keith led all commercial pest management operations in north Texas, east Texas and Oklahoma. A Board Certified Entomologist, he developed and rolled out food safety programs for national chain accounts across the United States. Today, Keith oversees Fine Tune’s pest control services offering nationwide.

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