Home Articles From Compliance to Competitive Edge: How GMP Certification Can Benefit Your Food Business
From Compliance to Competitive Edge: How GMP Certification Can Benefit Your Food Business
This AHF Insight is a primer on GMP certification for commercial production facilities. The article delves into an overview of the background, process, and benefits of obtaining GMP certification.

What is GMP certification?

In order to guarantee that food and beverage items are produced safely and hygienically, regulatory agencies created the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification, which mostly applies to consumable products or products used to make consumables. Organizations that wish to demonstrate their dedication to putting out high-quality products and keeping customers’ confidence should consider pursuing GMP accreditation. The procedure for gaining GMP certification for businesses producing food and beverages will be covered in this AHF Insight..

Understanding the rules and regulations pertaining to GMP certification is crucial to understanding what it will take to become certified.. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States created GMP requirements under 21 CFR Part 117 for beverages and Part 110 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for foods. The broad GMP concepts, such as facility and building design, equipment upkeep and cleaning, sanitation, and personnel hygiene, are described in these rules.

How to obtain GMP Certification?

Companies must thoroughly evaluate their current manufacturing processes to find areas where GMP requirements are not being followed before applying for GMP certification. All aspects of the manufacturing process, including the acquisition of raw materials, processing, packaging, and storage, should be evaluated and benchmarked to the GMP standards. Additionally, businesses should record all current protocols and processes, including staff training programs and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

After finishing the assessment, companies should start changing their production processes to comply with GMP rules. This may require changes to the layout of the facility, such as the installation of distinct spaces for raw materials and completed goods, as well as suitable ventilation and lighting. Additionally, companies should ensure that all machinery is cleaned and maintained correctly and that sanitary standards are followed in all production and packing areas.

Companies can commence the certification process after making the required adjustments by applying to a GMP-certifying organization, such as NSF International, SQF, or BRC. The certification organization will normally conduct an on-site inspection to do this. These inspections are carried out to ensure that a business’s production practices adhere to GMP rules and that the company has established the necessary procedures for upholding GMP compliance.
To ensure that GMP guidelines are in effect, the certifying authority will audit the plant and analyze all paperwork, including SOPs and employee training programs. The company’s tracking and record-keeping systems will also be examined by the certifying authority to ensure they are sufficient and that any deviations from GMP rules are noted and corrected.

Following the inspection, the certifying organization will publish a report outlining any non-compliance. Following that, businesses must address these issues and produce proof of the corrective measures they have taken within a certain timeframe. A GMP certificate, which is valid for a set time period, often for 1 or 2 years, will be given to the firm if the certifying organization finds that the production procedures follow GMP rules.

Notably, acquiring GMP certification is a continuous procedure rather than a one-time occurrence. Regular re-certification inspections are necessary to ensure that businesses comply with GMP rules, and organizations must continuously examine and enhance their production processes to maintain GMP compliance.

15 Key Principles of GMP Certification:

Below is a synopsis of the key principles of GMP compliance:

  1. Personnel hygiene: Employees should be trained in proper hygiene practices and must follow good personal hygiene practices such as hand washing and proper attire to especially in the production and laboratory settings.
  2. Cleanliness of buildings and facilities: Buildings and facilities should be designed and constructed to facilitate cleaning and to prevent external contamination or cross-contamination between different products within the facility.
  3. Equipment and utensils: Equipment and utensils should be designed, constructed, and maintained to facilitate cleaning and prevent contamination.
  4. Production and process controls: Companies should establish and implement written procedures for production SOPs and protocols and process controls to ensure that the products are safe, unadulterated, and possess the characteristics they purport.
  5. Sanitation: A sanitation program should be in place to ensure that food contact surfaces and equipment are properly cleaned and sanitized to prevent contamination or cross-contamination. The written Sanitation SOP (SSOP) is the compliance guide to which the sanitation logs show whether or not the company is compliant.
  6. Pest control: Companies should establish and implement a pest control program to prevent pests in the facility that can undermine food safety.
  7. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): Companies should conduct a hazard analysis to determine the potential food safety hazards associated with their products and implement measures to control those hazards. HACCP is a key component of GMP and often takes the most attention and effort to implement.
  8. Allergen control: Companies should implement measures to control allergen cross-contact in the facility and be able to identify and label any allergens used in food products.
  9. Recall plan: Companies should establish and implement a recall plan in the event of product contamination or other safety issues per USDA or State Agriculture Department Regulations.
  10. Record Keeping: Companies should maintain accurate and consistent records to demonstrate compliance with GMP regulations and to facilitate both internal and external audits into any food safety issues that may arise.
  11. Raw Material Control: Companies should establish and implement procedures to ensure that raw materials and ingredients used in food production are safe, of the appropriate quality, and suitable for their intended use. This includes procedures for receiving, inspecting, testing, and storing raw materials.
  12. Training and education: Companies should provide training for all employees on the importance of food safety, GMP principles, and their role in ensuring the safety of food products.
  13. Product Identification & Traceability: Companies should be able to identify and trace each batch and/or lot of product through all stages of production, packaging, storage, and distribution. Traceability helps in preventing and quickly recalling contaminated or mislabeled products.
  14. Quality Control: Companies should establish and implement a comprehensive and actionable quality control program to ensure that the products are safe and meet all the standards for identity, strength, quality, and purity. This includes regular testing and monitoring of products to ensure they meet all specifications.
  15. Maintenance and Calibration: Companies should establish and implement procedures to ensure that equipment and instruments are properly maintained, calibrated, and in good working order. Furthermore, they should establish procedures for the periodic maintenance of buildings and facilities.

GMP and Halal Certification

Obtaining GMP certification can simplify obtaining halal certification for your company, but by no means is it a substitute. Halal certification is a certification that the products are produced in accordance with Islamic laws, which has its own unique set of standards. Halal certification often includes elements of GMP certification, which confirms that a business’ production procedures adhere to rules for food safety and sanitation. Food and beverage businesses may shorten the process of acquiring Halal certification, making it easier and more productive, by gaining GMP certification ahead of time.

You can learn more about halal certification here.

Benefits of GMP Certification

Manufacturers may greatly benefit from having GMP certification. GMP accreditation may aid companies in gaining a competitive edge in the market and enhance their reputation by displaying a dedication to creating safe and high-quality products per a universally accepted benchmark. Consumers and businesses favor purchasing from organizations that have earned GMP accreditation; some even demand it from their suppliers.

Another advantage of GMP certification is that it may assist businesses in avoiding costly and time-consuming issues like product recalls and other issues that can result from failing to follow GMP requirements. Companies may guarantee that their goods are safe and free of contaminants by establishing GMP compliance processes and procedures, which can avoid expensive product recalls and legal problems.
It’s also important to note that acquiring GMP certification can assist businesses in adhering to other legal standards. For instance, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) laws in the United States mandate that food producers adhere to GMP requirements. Similarly, the EU Food Hygiene Regulations stipulate that GMP compliance is necessary. Companies can also prove compliance with these and other legal standards by getting GMP certification.

In order to ensure compliance, it is important to conduct thorough research on the regulations and certification standards of the country where the company is conducting production or plans to conduct production. GMP certification may vary depending on the country. Some countries have their own standards, regulations, and certification bodies.

In conclusion, gaining GMP certification is a beneficial step for any food and beverage company that wishes to ensure that its goods are made safely and hygienically and to demonstrate its dedication to creating high-quality products. Making the necessary adjustments to conform to GMP rules, passing an on-site inspection, and completing a complete review of current production procedures are required to gain GMP certification. To maintain GMP compliance, businesses should continuously review and enhance their production processes. Gaining GMP certification may be very advantageous for businesses, giving them a competitive edge in the market and preventing expensive product recalls and legal problems.

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