The recent salmonella outbreak that originated in North Carolina comes from an unpleasant source. Rose Acre Farms in North Carolina suffered a heavy infestation of rodents and insects, as well as a serious lack of food safety culture, according to inspection reports.
Thirty-five people who sourced eggs from the facility have gotten sick. Pest control is always a problem, whether insect, rodent, or otherwise, but it cannot be ignored. It appears that the task of fighting these infestations was not even attempted. Equally troubling was the report of employees mishandling waste, failing to meet hygienic standards, and touching food products without washing their hands or handling surfaces.
Often enough, facilities see pest control as a never-ending task. No matter what steps they take, there is no way to eliminate pest incursion completely; they operate massive facilities with thousands or millions of animals, and pests will be drawn to that environment. However, one or two rodents making it into a facility can be taken care of with traps or pest control. Hundreds or thousands cannot be managed at all, and pose a risk that cannot be understated.
Despite the impossibility of total control, having the right programs in place is the only way to manage them and keep them down to acceptable levels. In this case, the facility seems to have failed to do that, and it led to dozens of people getting sick, a recall, and a permanent black mark on their reputation and that of their vendors.
Although it can be difficult to manage, food safety is not complicated at its core; there are steps that must be taken, and procedures that need to be put into place. Training is available, both live and online, to show producers what those steps are and how to implement them successfully. Doing so is the only way to protect their products, their reputations, and most importantly, their customers.