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Setting the Standard for Food Safety and Pest Management Solutions

The 9th Big One

For years, the food industry has heard rumbling that sesame was going to be the next allergen to join the “Big 8.” In many countries around the world, (EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan) sesame IS an allergen and is required to be on labels. It has been documented that nearly 1.5 million Americans suffer from sesame allergy. Even more astonishing is the use of sesame in the food industry in items listed as “natural flavors” or “spices.” With so much pressure coming from scientific bodies (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine/NASEM), medical professionals, and consumer groups over the years, FDA now needed to take action.

In November 2020, FDA released a Draft Guidance titled: Voluntary Disclosure of Sesame as an Allergen. Within the draft guidance, FDA presents their current views on sesame as an allergen and provides recommendations to industry to communicate sesame clearly in the ingredient declaration when in flavors or as a spice. And on March 3, 2020, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Senate version of the FASTER Act, a proposed food allergy law. This bill is now in the U.S. Congress for review and a vote.

What does this mean for the food industry in the U.S.? Change…Change of labels, review and possible change of cleaning and sanitation processes, at a minimum, but for now, we must wait for FASTER to become law. The industry, however, knows how to adapt to change. Aren’t we all implementing FSMA?

Submitted by: Mark Dargay
Director, Regulatory Compliance
Comprehensive Food Safety

The Fungus Gnat

Photo courtesy of:

Order: Diptera Super Family: Sciaroidea Family: Mycetophilidae

Fungus gnats are small flies that infest soil, potting mix, other container media, and other sources of organic decomposition. Their larvae primarily feed on fungi and organic matter in soil, but also chew roots and can be a problem in greenhouses, nurseries, potted plants and interior plantscapes. Adult fungus gnats may emerge from houseplants indoors and become a nuisance.

Adults are delicate, grayish black, mosquito-like flies (1/8 inch long) with long legs and one pair of clear wings. They are not strong fliers and emerge from potted plants, especially when watering. Larvae or maggots (1/4 inch) have a shiny black head and an elongated, whitish to transparent body. They are most abundant in damp, rich soils and feed on root hairs, fungi and other organic materials. Adults live about one week and lay up to 300 eggs in rich, moist soils. Within 4-6 days tiny larvae emerge and begin feeding on plant roots during their two-week period. The pupal stage lasts 3-4 days before young adults leave the soil and begin the next generation. The entire life cycle from egg to adult may be completed in as little as 3-4 weeks depending on temperature. Adult fungus gnats don’t damage plants or bite people; their presence is primarily considered a nuisance.

Most of the fungus gnat’s life is spent as a larva and pupa in organic matter or soil, so the most effective control methods target these immature stages rather than attempting to directly control the mobile, short-lived adults. Physical and cultural management tactics—primarily the reductions of excess moisture and organic debris—are key to reducing fungus gnat problems. Insecticides are considered an important control option in some commercial plant production but generally aren’t recommended for fungus gnat management in and around the home.

Some information sourced from:

Submitted by: Rich Gibson, ACE, CFSQA

Sawtooth Grain Beetle Infestation

When performing an initial setup for a new RKE client, in the summer months, it was made evident that the existing ground pheromone monitors had excessive sawtoothed grain beetle captures. With just 20 ground pheromone monitors and over 500 sawtoothed grain beetles, it was clear that there is a major concern in the facility. 40 new ground pheromones were installed in a grid like pattern to assist with aggressive monitoring. When performing the weekly service, captures were over 700 and immediate action needed to be taken.

To knock down the population, a space treatment was implemented utilizing Pyrocide 300 mixed with an insect growth regulator, Diacon. The results were outstanding where the following service provided under 100 saw tooth grain beetle captures. After the space treatment is complete, the results always tell a story. Additional monitoring and customized solutions for sealing is needed. This is a major project to seal all the base of the feet and angel iron; however it is a work in progress that is currently taking place. To expand the monitoring process, ground pheromone monitors where mounted in racking on high levels. This assisted to locate “hot spots” within product on higher levels rather than sifting through each and every pallet.

After speaking with the client regarding the product within the facility, it was made clear that pallets are purchased in bulk and stored at the location. Pallets may be stored in the facility up to 2 years before being discarded simply because it did not sell as anticipated. Currently, the client is looking at improved purchasing to reduce the risk of excessive aged product. An aged product list was generated by the client and we took a close look at which product(s) have been sitting in the facility for over 6 months. With the help from the clients’ staff, a detailed inspection began on aged product. What we found was super sacs of grain product filled with saw tooth grain beetles that had been sitting in the facility for over 6-12 months. This led to performing trailer fumigations. One vital piece to trailer fumigations was to ensure all wrapping was removed and the tops of the sacs were untied. This will allow the fumigant to spread deep within the sacs of grains.

Being that the product is being introduced to the facility constantly, it was time to look at potential harborage areas. Floor junctures were not properly sealed upon the construction phase and grains where deep into the junctures. After doing some digging, this indicated harborage areas where grains were being compacted and sawtoothed grain beetles were feeding. Ideally, the floor junctures would need to be cleaned, sanitized and permanently sealed; however this is a massive project. For the mean time, crack and crevice treatments are provided to assist with the reduction of the population.

Though many different methods, which included reviewing aged product lists, expanding monitoring on all levels of racking, crack and crevice applications, sealing, space treatments and trailer fumigations, the saw tooth grain beetle population has greatly reduced. Working together with the client is a key factor for success.

Take Away Points:
1. Get the client involved. Review aged product.
2. Expand monitoring on all levels of racking.
3. Look for harborage areas. Do some digging if needed.
4. Suggest facility improvement along with managed solutions.

Submitted by: Shaun Funk
Regional Operations Manager
RK Environmental Services, LLC