What is FIFO and Why Is It Important?

If you’re running a cannabis or dietary supplement type of GMP production facility, then your products are reliant on being sold well before expiry dates. Failure to manage this means that you’d have expired stock on shelves that can cost you losses and can also compromise the safety of the products you’re providing to the consumer market. FIFO is the industry standard in food production safety.

What Is FIFO?

FIFO is a food storage system that is used to properly rotate stock so that older products are distributed first, and newer ones stay on the shelf. FIFO basically means First In First Out. It’s applicable whether materials are stored on the shelf, in a heater, or in a refrigerator.

FIFO is also applicable for any bottles and closures, ingredients, packaging, or other components which might be used in a finished product during manufacture.  By using FIFO, your company can ensure streamlined inventory practices and the use of materials which will always keep integrity through the life of your product.

It’s essential for industries where people handle high amounts of products. It’s used in all types of industries, from food, catering, retail, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. FIFO should be an essential part of a new employee’s training so they understand the procedures surrounding it.

What Are Procedures for FIFO?

This is a simple and efficient system to train your workers. At a glance, your workers will know exactly which products or materials are used or selected first. This ensures that older products or materials are used first in your GMP production facility, which will minimize wastage over time.

There are five simple steps involved in FIFO.

1. Search for products that have the closest use-by, best before, or expiry dates.

2. Toss items that are damaged or past their prime dates.

3. Move the older dated items to the front of the shelf.

4. Place newer stock behind the older stock. The more recent dates should be at the back.

5. Grab the most recent items from the front first.

Each product should have a label on it. If the product needs to be repackaged, the label should transfer. FIFO is a process that involves your stock constantly being moved around, so that it’s used before it expires.

FIFO Checklist

The production team may wish to implement a checklist in order to track their materials or products. This is a system that needs to be used by everyone in an organization. The checklist should be stored in stock regions and should be easy for staff to find. It should include the 5 steps listed above.

It’s also important to check for a few other items too. Products should have their packaging checked regularly for damage or deterioration. The products should be stored right way up on the shelf. A shelf or storage unit should never be over-stocked, as accidents can happen.

FIFO is extremely important because if even one person fails to properly follow procedures, it can impact everyone’s workflow. This can lead to consumers’ loss of trust in your product, and impact everyone’s perception of your business.

Not only can FIFO help to maintain trust and safety but it can prevent wastage over time. It can also help your business to comply with government regulations.