Heat treatments have been around and used since the early 1900’s. It is the process of gradually heating a structure or equipment to temperatures high enough to kill all life stages of insect pests, particularly stored product pests in the food industry. Heat treatments can be an alternative to fumigation for eliminating infestations which pose risk for infesting products. However, heat is not an option for treating products themselves, as heat does not penetrate products to a significant degree and can even damage some food products.

Generally, heat treatments are not a one-time, stand-alone solution for insect control. The use of heat requires consideration of several important factors. Also, sanitation and incoming product inspection programs are very important considerations with the use of heat or any other IPM approach. You must not only know what the effects of heat are, you must know how to manage the applied heat during the heat treatment.

The complexity of managing heat treatments includes planning for the effective distribution of the heat, taking into consideration the mobility of insects, understanding the sensitivity of the building and equipment to high temperatures, and the insulating nature of possible harborage areas and product residues.

The key factors for effective heat treatment are:

  • The capability to safely control and circulate the heated air at a target temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit within a timeframe sufficient to kill insects.
  • The ability to measure and record temperatures throughout the treatment area.
  • Assurance that there will be no damage to the structure and equipment.
  • Removal of any product commodities or packaged foods in the treatment area.
  • Mitigation strategies for all items susceptible to heat damage are put in place.
  • Sufficient time allowance for temperature ramp-up, exposure period hold time, and cool-down.

There can be advantages to using heat for pest management, including high temperatures kill all life stages of the insects if the target temperature is achieved and specific plant areas can be isolated for treatment without having to shut-down operations throughout the rest of the facility.

IFC has specially trained personnel to assess any facility for heat treatment suitability. With close to 90 years of providing pest management and sanitation solutions for the food industry, IFC is the first choice for providing effective heat treatments. We have expertise in the full range of integrated pest management services and products, with the ability to meet regulatory compliance requirements in the food industry.

If you have any questions or are interested in scheduling an appointment, please request a free assessment now.