If not addressed properly, small flies in a processing plant could become a major public health concern. Basically, the flies will feed, breed, and live in contaminated areas. At some point and more often than not, they will land on food or food surfaces and transporting pathogens and the risk of foodborne illness in humans. Fruit flies and drain flies are commonly found in these facilities. Experts from the pest product industry address why these pests are such a problem and what can be done
According to Syngenta Professional Pest Management Technical Services Representative Nicky Gallagher, facilities that process and store liquid foods are vulnerable to fruit fly and drain fly infestations, “Food facilities can provide all the resources that these flies need, whether it is accumulated moist food, drains in need of sanitation, garbage receptacles, unmaintained floors with cracks and crevices, broken food containers, or even employee break rooms,” Gallagher said.
“Fruit flies and drain flies need certain conditions to thrive, including an available food supply and moist, warm conditions for breeding,” said BASF Global PSS Product Education Manager Thomas Nishimura. “Most food processing plants have these conditions readily available.”
Fruit flies have many attractants, said Aunt Fannie’s CEO Mat Franken, including color, scent, yeast content, fermentation, sugar, and others. They most frequently come into a plant by their “hitchhiking” on the foodstuffs brought into a facility, but they also can come in from the outdoors, he said.
Additionally, Rockwell Labs Founder and CEO Cisse Spragins added that fruit flies feed and breed in fermenting material, even very small amounts. So when food and moisture collects in a crack or crevice and remains undisturbed, fermentation can occur and the area can become a breeding site.
Drain flies, on the other hand, tend to originate from filthy sources that contain sewage, rotting food, or other organic materials, Gallagher said.
This is because, Spragins said, drain flies lay their eggs in organic gunk that builds up in drains, particularly drains that are actively used and kept moist. Such drains are prevalent in food processing areas, and food particles contribute to the organic build-up, creating the ideal environment.
Additionally, she said, “the wash-down cleaning used in many food plants can make matters worse, regularly pushing moisture and food particles into cracks and crevices.”