Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are a set of working and environmental conditions to which manufacturers should adhere to ensure safety and reliability of their products. Not only should companies adhere to GMP guidelines in order to bring their products to market, manufacturers in the food industry also have a reputation to maintain and a trust among their consumers. For food and beverage manufacturers, ensuring GMP must be integrated into every aspect of the manufacturing process and is key for living up to the consumer’s level of trust and reliance. In this article we will discuss Good Manufacturing Practice in the food industry, why they are important and how companies can maintain them.
Why is GMP important?
Adhered to by the vast majority of manufacturing facilities, GMP standards are crucial for the maintenance of effective manufacturing processes and ensuring quality of the products. Incompliance with GMP can not only lead to regulatory intervention with a manufacturing facility, but can also create major drawbacks for the business, detrimental for the public image of the company or brand.
Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines are set by a nation’s government and play a major part in the food industry regulation environment. Although also protecting the company, GMP is primarily designed to protect the consumer by instructing the food industry to manufacture products to a high quality threshold, maximising product safety. When GMP standards are implemented correctly and consistently, they can also play a large role in cutting costs and boosting productivity for the manufacturer. They can also make the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly and minimise any drawbacks that slow down the daily workflow of the business.
Achieving and maintaining GMP standards
1. Documentation and recordkeeping
Keeping a water-tight record of the end-to-end manufacturing process, including the compliance protocols and measures is key for keeping up with the GMP standards. It is crucial to ensure that everything that goes in and out of the facility is documented in a clear format and ready to be presented as evidence of your compliance with GMP. Documents should be stored in a well organised system or database with secure and easy access. Using a digital software environment that offers the features and infrastructure for efficient and accurate record keeping is a crucial step in achieving GMP compliance. When deploying a data or process management software for your business, ensure that the software provider is mindful of your compliance requirements and offers the necessary functionality.
2. Quality control and audits
Conducting regular quality control checks is particularly important in the food and beverage industry. This applies to both physical quality assurance checks and digital audits of documentation and records. For instance, it is customary to run monthly quality checks to ensure that the FDA’s food safety and quality standards are met. This reduces the chances of processing e.g. raw or expired products which can cause health risks for the consumer or create regulatory setbacks. Conducting quarterly independent digital audits to ensure there is a fully documented trace of all manufacturing processes equally important for GMP compliance. To make this process as easy and efficient as possible, it is advisable to use an ELN or LIMS with dedicated compliance features to provide comprehensive digital audit trails to the auditors.
3. Inventory and equipment management
It is essential to keep track of the inventory at the manufacturing facility. It is equally important to ensure the instruments and machinery are kept in good condition. This includes mechanical maintenance of the equipment as well as regular hygienic practices to clean the machinery. Using a digital system to track the equipment condition and service schedules will facilitate the process of quickly tracking and repairing defective and malfunctioning instruments without losing valuable time.
4. Storage conditions
All raw materials used for the manufacturing process must be stored in appropriate conditions. Manufacturers must keep good order of the storage facilities and keep good track of all products that are in stock. To ensure the quality of products, the information about the product origin must also be thoroughly recorded and kept for future audits and quality checks. For this purpose, stock room and storage facility monitoring tools are available, remotely recording e.g. temperature and humidity conditions. Integrating such tools with your wider data management system will save on admin time and contribute to keeping a complete audit trail of your manufacturing process.
5. Further information on GMP Compliance Guidelines
You can visit this website for a list of current FDA GMP food processing guidelines. You can also view the current FDA GMP for food and dietary supplements here. For detailed information about GMP regulatory compliance guidelines in the UK you can visit this webpage. You can also contact Labstep directly to learn about the GMP guidelines in your country and how Labstep can help in becoming compliant.
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