The food industry is one of the most heavily regulated parts of the American economy. One of the primary regulators of the food industry, the US Food and Drug Administration, has an extensive list of rules that have to be followed. Their Good Manufacturing Practices, or GMPs, are a standardized set of requirements for the production, storage and transportation of edibles. Food storage warehousing has to adhere to the FDA’s GMPs to meet FDA enforcement standards.
The History of GMP
Food regulation in the US goes back to the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. Because that law was not well drafted and provided too many loopholes, the government passed the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938. That law set out additional details, including a description of basic standards food storage warehousing and food manufacturing facilities. Because it was still relatively vague, the FDA started working on GMP regulations in the 1960s, finalized them in 1969 and has been updating them ever since.
Beyond the FDA
GMPs aren’t just a Federal requirement. The World Health Organization maintains its own global set of standards. In addition, countries ranging from Australia to Canada to Vietnam have their own as does the European Union. Many states also impose their own requirements that can go beyond the GMP regulations. Within the US, the GMP serves as a minimum standard of food storage warehousing quality, not as a lofty goal.
GMP and Food Storage Warehousing
GMPs are both a set of philosophies and a set of objective standards. One of the underlying philosophy of GMPs is that conditions in which food adulteration can occur are treated as causing adulteration. If a facility is moldy, for instance, the food doesn’t need to be tested for mold — the mold is simply assumed to be there. Another principal underlying GMPs is that of risk reduction rather than risk elimination. Since it is essentially impossible to completely eliminate every risk of food safety hazards, the goal, instead, is to get the level of risk as low as possible.
To comply with GMPs, food storage warehousing facilities have to meet a broad range of specific standards. For instance, the facility’s personnel must:
- clean or sanitize their gloves every time they start and finish work or when their gloves get dirty.
- not bring any edible items (even throat lozenges!) in the facility with them
- keep any objects like pencils or cell phones below their belt or waist line
- remove all jewelry and hairpins and not wear fingernail polish
- ensure visitors follow the same standards that they do.
These five items are just a small sample of the multiple standards that food storage warehousing workers have to meet. Furthermore, the rules for personnel are a minor portion of all of the areas covered by GMP standards. Plants and warehouses also need to meet strict requirements for cleaning and sanitization, plumbing and water systems, indoor air quality, equipment, training and building quality.
Clark Logistic Services maintains food storage warehousing that meets and exceeds Federal GMPs. If you are looking for food grade 3PL services in one of America’s most centrally located logistics hubs, contact us to learn more about how we can solve your supply chain challenges.