Written By: Alex A. Kecskes
Pest birds can pose a major threat in and around facilities where food is being prepared, processed or stored. Without proper bird control measures, facilities managers and health inspectors know fair well how quickly and easily pest birds can contaminate food. Bird droppings can spread disease, harbor over forty types of parasites, and can internally host over 60 types of infectious diseases. Among the most common are histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, and toxoplasmosis, even the West Nile virus.
FDA Rules and other Guidelines
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and various state regulations governing food facilities clearly specify what food handlers and processors must do when it comes to food. It cannot be packaged, processed or held under unsanitary conditions where it may cause a problem or become adulterated. Food processing and handling firms that violate these regulations can jeopardize their license.
New York State regulations, for example, are quite specific about bird control: “No animals or birds, other than those essential as raw material, shall be allowed in any area of a food plant. Effective measures shall be taken to exclude pests from the processing areas and to protect against contamination of foods in or on the premises by animals, birds and vermin. The use of insecticides and rodenticides is permitted only under such precautions and restrictions as will prevent the contamination of food or packaging materials with illegal residues.”
Pest birds living in or on the exterior of a food plant are as much of a concern to food plant operators as rats, mice, bat or insect infestations. Direct contamination need not take place for a plant to be cited. Simply the evidence of pests, even without contamination may constitute a potential hazard and may result in a Federal citation. Health inspectors are often on the lookout for feathers, nesting material, droppings, regurgitated pellets of undigestable matter, eggs, ectoparasites, insects, fruits and seeds. A health violation may be cited if evidence of such contamination is found in the food product, product packaging, processing equipment, or storage equipment.
Effective Bird Control Measures
There are a variety of effective and humane bird control measures one can use without resorting to bird poisons (avicides), which have very strict guidelines for use. To prevent contamination, it is advisable to implement bird deterrent or bird repellent measures before evidence of contamination appears.
They Can’t Land on Bird Spikes
For large birds considering coming in for a landing, Bird Spikes look pretty intimidating. But the menacing-looking spikes are harmless to birds and maintenance crews. They come in 3”, 5” and 8” widths and two-foot sections. And they can be nailed, screwed or glued down onto any surface. So installation is fast and easy. Some spikes even come with a flexible base so they can be installed on curved surfaces (one manufacturer sells a spike that bends a full 360 degrees to accommodate any contoured surface).
Bird control spikes are available in durable stainless steel or unbreakable UV-protected polycarbonate. The poly spikes cost a bit less and are ideal for use where the electrical conductivity of steel spikes might present a problem. If pest birds seem to gather in rain gutters, choose the Gutter Spike (the best of these will feature adjustable base clamps for easy attachment to the lip of a gutter).
They’ll Avoid Electric Shock Tracks
Install these electrified tracks on any flat or curved surface and no respectable pest bird will stay for long. With this bird control device, it’s one zap and they’re gone. The tracks emit a mild electric jolt that’s harmless to birds and people. Electric tracks have proven to be a highly effective bird control device for use on ledges, rooftops, parapet walls and any surface where pest birds tend to gather. The best electric tracks feature a low-profile flow-through design to keep water from damming up on rooftops.
Bird Netting As Bird Barrier
To exclude pest birds altogether, there’s Bird Netting. This proven bird control measure is ideal for keeping pest birds out of certain troublesome areas. Bird netting comes in different mesh sizes to exclude a wide variety of pest birds. There’s 1-1/8” to 2” mesh size netting for pigeons and 3/4″ mesh for sparrows or starlings. Look for netting made of knotted polyethylene U.V.-treated twine, and netting that meets ISO 1806 protocols. If the netting is to be used near warm equipment, install flame-resistant netting. There’s also rot- and water-proof netting for extended outdoor use.