Pro Tip: Detailed training, reminders and team meetings can keep GMPs top of mind for employees.

Although all GMPs in food manufacturing facilities are important, there are a few that everyone should understand. Some of the most frequent and basic issues noted during inspections and investigations are violations outlined in section CFR 117.10 – Personnel practices

This includes handwashing, which is even practiced by everyone at home every day. It also includes the use of hair and facial coverings, removing unsecured jewelry, confining the use of tobacco products and eating and drinking to designated areas, maintaining personal cleanliness, and even the proper use and control of gloves.

When asked to give examples of GMPs, most employees will usually select one of these key practices, demonstrating an understanding of their direct impact on food safety. It may also be an indication that they do not understand or are not familiar with the many other GMPs that are also important.

Other violations are often found in section CFR 117.35 – Sanitary operations. This includes pest control, which was the leading regulatory issue noted from 2006-17.

 Additional regulatory findings are often found in section CFR 117.40 – Equipment and utensils, which details the conditions and maintenance of the equipment and utensils used in the facility. 

There are numerous ways to manage these and other GMPs. First, detailed training when onboarding new employees will ensure they start with an understanding of both how to apply these practices and why they’re so important.

Reminders of key food safety practices should then be posted in areas where employees will see them, such as entry ways, breakrooms and near the time clock.

Brief team meetings before starting each day’s production can also serve as an opportunity to address issues noted during an inspection and provide training.

Taking such an ongoing approach will help make sure your team doesn’t develop bad habits.

Jesse Leal is a food safety professional for AIB International.