Food safety is an issue of great interest to everybody in the food trade. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) comprise the basic, universal steps that control operating conditions and ensure favourable conditions for producing safe food.

Since ages, food has been an area of commercial interest to mankind. Food Safety was discussed in various ways in various societies. In India, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) were integral to our cultural and social practices and were designed to take care of basic food safety requirements. Recall your childhood when your mother used to order, “wash your hands before touching any food product”, keep unwashed utensils far away from the kitchen, keep your shoes out of the kitchen, etc. These methods are effective and even valid in the modern scientific age. Traditionally, Indian Society is hygiene conscious. In recent years because of increased commercialisation and adoption of unhygienic habits for undue commercial gains and lack of resources available to the people in the food trade coupled with environmental pollution, food hygiene has become a major issue of concern in international trade.

GMPs for Compliance with food safety regulations

Food safety became an issue of great interest to everybody in the food trade when the United States FSIS Pathogen Reduction/HACCP rule published in July 1996 combines the concepts of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems with the FSIS requirement for written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs). However, HACCP and SSOPs are only part of a total food safety system. Good Manufacturing Practices provide the foundation for SSOPs and HACCP. It is important to clearly understand the relationship between the GMPs, SSOPs, and HACCP plans for compliance with various food safety regulations.

GMPs’ pre-requisite programmes comprise the basic, universal steps and procedures that control operating conditions within establishments and ensure favourable conditions for producing safe food. These differ from HACCP systems which focus on the critical points in a manufacturing process that affects food safety. GMPs are the control factors that relate to the entire operation and are not process-specific. GMPs include programmes such as facilities/grounds, equipment/utensils, pest control, receiving and storage, process control, product recall and personnel training.

Effective GMP programmes

Before developing and implementing HACCP plans, an establishment should review existing programmes and verify that all GMPs are in place and effective. Effective GMP programmes ensure that HACCP plans focus specifically on the critical control points (COPs) necessary for product safety. If any portion of the GMPs is not adequately controlled, a HACCP plan can be less effective in ensuring product safety.

Before we go into details, please remember that food safety cannot be achieved with a piecemeal approach. We will help you understand the fundamentals of food safety and develop an in-house quality system to meet your requirements. It is not difficult to implement these in your production facilities. What is needed is an application of scientific knowledge with a common sense approach and commitment from the top management. Quality is, however, not free, but it is the cheapest option to progress in business in the present-day competitive environment.

Components of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)

GMPs are like any policy programme any manufacturer has implemented. They require a written programme, an appropriate training programme and schedule, a maintenance schedule and most importantly, management commitment.

Management commitment is a vital component of any programme the company implements. Management’s role takes on many forms, from providing funds, guidance, and human resources, to following the rules themselves.

Once management has committed to implementing a programme, other components will fall into place. Without this, no amount of investment or external assistance will deliver results.

Written GMP Programme and Records

Written Programme Clearly Explaining its Scope

The written programme will serve as the base for other components. A well-written programme includes the programme’s who, that, where, when, why and how. It should clearly explain the programme’s scope, responsible individuals, its importance, parameters, monitoring activities and records, corrective actions and records and verification activities. A multi-disciplinary team of individuals with technical and operational expertise should write the programme. In small units, entrepreneurs may take the help of external well-qualified food industry professionals or train themselves.

The programme should be written at a level appropriate for the employees’ educational level and in a language they understand. Furthermore, it should clearly set forth an effective communication system, i.e. the record-keeping system and the expectations of the record-keeping system.

However, it is an effort that is required once, and later it will act as a basic guide and can be modified as and when needed to upgrade the quality standards.

Record-keeping to creates effective communication

A record-keeping system creates an environment in which employees communicate with one another. Its proper design and implementation directly affect how information is shared and problems are solved. The record-keeping system must be a proactive vehicle of communication, desigred primarily to be useful. Monitoring and corrective action records should be designed not only with the monitor in mind, but also the auditor.

Records should include a brief description of parameters being monitored, corrective actions to be taken by the monitor, product code/code date, date, time, findings, monitors initials and other appropriate information. Records should be reviewed, before being filed, for accuracy and to ensure that all the parameters of the programme were met and appropriate corrective actions are taken. Monitors should be carefully chosen and appropriately trained. They should have good written communication skills to make the records that ensure proper compliance.

The following section, “Good Manufacturing Practices,” will go into more detail for specific areas the written programme should consider.

Training Programmed are critical to the effectiveness of GMP

Next to management commitment, an effective training programme and schedule are critical to the effectiveness of the GMP programmes. Without the proper training of all employees, the effectiveness of GMPs is jeopardised. Training of employees and your own will help translate your dream into reality not only in terms of quality but also in terms of profits. Thus it is vital to develop human capital to face competition.

There should be stress on the importance of both employee participation and employee accountability. Literacy and language are two very important issues to be considered in developing the appropriate training programme for GMPs and other food safety programmes because all persons involved in production processes may be from different places or may be of different educational levels. In addition, people learn visually and/or audibly. In other words, some people learn by reading or seeing, some learn by hearing, and some learn by combining both.

An effective training programme will incorporate different deliveries of information. Furthermore, an effective training programme is structured in such a way that the employees are told in advance what will be taught, and then they are trained and finally a review is done of what they have learnt. Once the programme has been developed, trainers must be selected and trained. Trainers should be chosen carefully and should be selected on the basis of his/her training skills and not by job description or position they hold in the company or department. It is a well-acknowledged fact that a good player may not always be a good coach. Similarly, in-house Managers, Supervisors and QA employees do not always make the best trainers.

Training Programme Schedule

Training schedule development should consider the turnover rate and should have updates or reminder sessions as well. Regardless of the job, all new employees should undergo an initial training session. Companies often prefer on-the-job training to save time or money, but on-the-job training (OJT) is not an effective way to train employees for GMP or food safety programmes. OJT hampers the learning process of new concepts and new benchmarking. In some situations, it is conceivable to have “new employee” training on a daily basis.

All training activities should be documented, including who received the training, the date and the type of training given. This will help at a later date to identify the training needs of the employees for further up-gradation.

Scientific Inputs for Programme Maintenance

In today’s world, scientific and commercial information changes very fast. Like facilities and equipment, written programmes must be maintained to ensure effectiveness. A maintenance schedule for written programmes should be based on changes in your facility environment or new scientific developments. Employee turnover, new process introductions and facility layout changes are just a few issues that could trigger a review of the written programme.

In addition, any time you reassess food production and safety/programmes, the GMPs should also be reassessed.

What are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and how do they relate to food processing?

GMPs are fundamental procedures ensuring safe food production. In India, GMPs align with traditional practices like handwashing before handling food. They provide a foundation for modern food safety measures.

What are components of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)?

GMP components include maintaining a clean environment, proper equipment care, pest control, safe material handling, process monitoring, recall procedures, and employee training.

Why is commitment for GMPs is crucial, and how does it contribute to successful food safety implementation?

Management commitment sets the tone for prioritizing and adhering to GMPs. It ensures necessary support and resources, fostering a culture of food safety throughout the organization.

How does the training program play a critical role in GMP effectiveness?

An effective training program ensures understanding and compliance with GMPs. It should consider literacy, language proficiency, various learning styles, and emphasize employee participation and accountability.

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