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Question from Vietnam: How Can Food Companies Control Pests Safely?

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Our subject this week involves food safety. We have a question from a listener in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Nguyen Thanh Thanh asks how can food companies control problems like rats and insects without harming the food?

Experts say poisons should never be used where they may enter food. They say the first line of defense against pests is to clean places where food is handled or stored.

Floors, food preparation surfaces and tools can be disinfected with chemicals like chlorine, iodine or bromine. A five-and-one-quarter percent chlorine solution is commonly used. Mix nineteen milliliters of the chlorine solution with five liters of water for use in cleaning.

Food containers should be stored about one-half a meter off the ground. They should also be kept about one-half a meter away from walls. Storage areas should be kept dry and clean.

Good drainage means that floors do not have areas where water can collect.

Waste containers inside and outside the building should be kept closed. And they should be kept clean.

Clear any waste from the grounds around a building. Small stones can be used to cover the ground and block the growth of plants. Keep areas of grass cut to deny pests a place to live.

Doors and windows must close completely. Also, any holes that might permit pests to enter a building should be filled. Rats can enter through a hole thirteen millimeters in size. A mouse can pass through a hole half that size.

Supervisors should make a list of pest-control measures to be taken by employees. This will aid the efforts and also help prepare for any inspections.

In the United States, businesses where food is stored, prepared or sold must follow federal, state and local health laws.

The Food and Drug Administration enforces federal rules. So does the Food Safety and Inspection Service, part of the Department of Agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for rules about the use of pesticides.

The United States government has a Web site with information all about food safety. The address is foodsafety-dot-gov, f-o-o-d-s-a-f-e-t-y dot g-o-v.

If you have a question for us about agriculture or related subjects, write to Or visit us online at voaspecialenglish dot com.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. I'm Gwen Outen.