GMP Granola is my private geeky joke that goes through my head every time I make Granola.
In my early Granola making days, I had a secondhand oven that provided uneven heat distribution and was relatively small with only one tray. I would really have to be on top of things during the process in order not to burn the batch.
Nevertheless, I was a student with no money, so my acceptance criteria were quite low, and it would take a complete burn-out for me to discard a batch.
The years went on and I bought a new oven- with much better heat distribution, larger tray area AND three trays- so overnight, my production capacity increased threefold! (well… it wasn’t really a x3 increase since other bottlenecks remained- mainly, my dwindling free time as a young father).
My granola making years were in parallel to my first years as a CMC consultant, and I would find myself drifting away in thoughts about GMP, while making it.
Although Granola is Generally Recognized as Safe, I still found it important to keep the quality higher than my early years, since I would gift it to friends sometimes, and bring it to the office. So aside from the obvious limitation - that no one likes burnt granola - I didn’t want anyone to break a tooth while eating it. The thing is that when you buy nuts and grains, they sometime contain small hard pieces of foreign materials- be it other grains from the another bin, or tiny stones and hard shells.
I had kept track of the best places to buy my raw materials from (inside my head of course, which is far from GMP ), but my awareness to this aspect made me more diligent when pouring the raw materials into the mix and sorting through them. This had become a routine risk mitigation step for me, but from time to time, I still find a random tiny hard grain (now no one would want my granola as a gift!). This tension between quality and efficiency, combined with real-world limitations, riddles me in my professional life all the time.
My process has become better and better over the years. By sharing the recipe with friends and family, I also had a written version of it, and it was updated every time I shared it with others. When COVID hit, the shop I used to buy grains from opened up for orders by phone. We quickly realized that it is easier to send the cashier my request via a text message (long list of grains, quantities, etc.) and I started getting precise amounts of grains (when I bought it myself, I would load the bag without weighing very carefully, and this created some variability between batches, due to the different ratios of the components).
In the oven arena, things have also become more streamlined, as I developed a process that maximizes the oven capacity while shortening the overall time of making three trays instead of one. This had involved upgrading my procedures to include a piece of paper for planning, a timer, and an SOP for switching the order of the trays inside the oven, as each of them was in a different stage of the full process at any given time.
When I get the chance, I will update this post with my recipe and process- this could be the template of the first Master Batch Record for my GMP Granola! A significant way forward in my GMP compliance level, which at the moment is very low.