What is GMP and why is it Important in the Hemp Industry?
In the beginning of 2020, we never could have predicted what was to come with COVID - 19. This pandemic has rocked the world and put a strain on everything from healthcare, to production, to food. All industries have been affected not only with new regulations and hours, but have especially struggled with distribution, insurance, finance, supply chains, and more. In our lifetime, we have never seen a pandemic to this extent, and the economic impact is immeasurable. As we begin to rebuild our economy and put our lives back together, a few things are certain - wellness and health are going to become priorities, and having Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) will be an absolute necessity for businesses to survive.
Why is having GMPs in place important?
In short, it helps businesses like ours ensure that you, as a customer have trust, transparency, and above all - safety! The core of our business is the production floor. In Dr. Tom’s case, this encompasses our seed to shelf business plan. Our production floor begins with the hemp fields, to the extraction and formulation rooms, all the way up to packaging the final product and preparing it to be shipped to you. Our business and livelihood depends on our product moving through these processes, and your wellness depends on our ability to trace it. This is where GMPs come in.
GMPs in the Hemp Industry
It’s not just the new ‘thing’ in the hemp and cannabis industry. GMPs have been around for decades and consist of a system of best practices. GMPs are constantly being improved and refined to ensure product safety and accountability. There is great value for companies to utilize best practices from GMPs because it gives peace of mind to employees, customers, investors, risk managers, and anyone else looking for a commitment to safety and transparency from a business. During this time, we are focusing on reviewing our operating procedures and taking all the steps necessary to become GMP certified.
Good Manufacturing Practice is crucial for the Hemp and Cannabis Industry. This industry is not regulated as thoroughly as many industries. Due to this industry not being as heavily regulated, it is important to ensure products are produced in a consistent, high quality, controlled environment. GMPs ensure risks are minimized throughout the process, because sometimes discrepancies cannot be eliminated or detected during the final product testing.
What Exactly does GMP include?
GMPs cover every aspect of manufacturing. The starting materials, premises, environment, equipment, and even the personal hygiene of staff (which is crucial given the circumstances of COVID - 19). Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) are highly detailed and written out to ensure the quality and safety of the final product. These procedures are paired with records to store data each and every time a product is made. Records can be pulled at any time to prove the procedures have been properly followed by everyone involved.
In light of COVID - 19, all businesses have had to modify daily operating procedures - and this should be reflected in the records. Every facet of our business has made some amendments, from cultivation, extraction, packaging, and distribution. We have begun staggering schedules and limiting our production runs. We have provided additional hygiene protocols for our employees, sanitary protective gear, and updated our SOPs. We have new PPE requirements, and more strict sanitation rules. We have additional steps for opening a production run, and for closing at the end of the day. We have implemented employee leave/travel guidelines. Our SOPs have reflected these changes and are being reviewed on a regular basis. We have written records as proof in the event we need it. We are conducting internal audits to ensure consistency across the board, and have corrected areas which were in need of improvement. All of these things prove at Dr.Tom’s, we care about product safety and Good Manufacturing Practices.
How Dr.Tom's is Utilizing GMPs
Our Commitment to Internal (Self) Auditing
Everyone makes mistakes, it happens. Our business consists of multiple people to keep everything going smoothly and production in a timely manner. Because of this, sometimes issues arise. The repercussions can be anything from inventory stocking issues, customer dissatisfaction, product recalls, product discrepancies, and more. We don’t want these things to happen, so we utilize an internal audit program with checklists. We periodically do reviews to our operational areas to identify any issues. If non-conformity is uncovered, we execute corrective action to ensure it doesn’t happen again and follow-up with another audit at a later date.
Our Commitment to Manage Suppliers
Our raw materials are provided by third-parties who are required to provide certifications to us. We are committed to finding suppliers who are GMP compliant with guaranteed turnaround times, high quality products, and transparency. As part of our own GMP program, we are committed to using vendors with quality agreements in place. Our vendors go through a vendor qualification form and allow us with the right to audit. We also garnish terms and conditions in regards to product specifications, and percentages of on-time performance. We keep documentation records of each and every delivery we receive. As the economy slowly and carefully re-opens, we are building relationships with suppliers that care just as much about GMP as we do and have the traceability to back it up.
Our Commitment to Proper Documentation
We are committed to keeping a thorough Document Management System. We have a list of forms (including SOPs), procedures, and record books. We are in the process of creating an electronic system to ensure formulations and updates are easily accessible by all employees, at all times. Our documentation management process has been effectively streamlined to keep our business 100% compliant and operating efficiently.
Our Commitment to Sanitation and Cleanliness
As we mentioned earlier, COVID-19 has brought about some increased challenges in the cleanliness and sanitation department. We have increased our cleaning regiment and require all of our employees to wear copious amounts of PPE in all manufacturing areas. We have reorganized our workflows and consistently disinfect footwear. We promise to stay committed and test our cleanliness and sanitation, even post COVID-19. Our products will have no pathogens, and that is a promise from us to you as our customers.
Our Commitment to Risk Management
Throughout our restructuring of GMP requirements and protocols, we have taken a look at our overall Quality System, which includes our business continuity plans. What this means is we are working to improve employee training, product formulations, communication chains, and making sure we have a solid Workplace Crisis Management Plan in place. We have found the gaps and fixed them, so you can be sure Dr.Tom’s is here to stay for the long run. While the entire hemp industry has been disrupted by COVID - 19, we are doing the work now to ensure our business will not be disrupted in the future.
Trust in the Hemp Industry
Why are we sharing all of this? We believe trust is number one, especially in this industry. We want you, as our customers, to see the work we are doing in our pursuit of GMP certification. We want to be transparent in our processes as much as possible so we can ensure you are getting exactly what you pay for - a high quality, fresh, and safe product each and every time. Whether you are a new customer, a potential customer, or a long time customer, you deserve a great product. GMP is important in making sure this happens and we promise to uphold ourselves to the highest GMP standards each and every day. Certification in GMP coming soon!