ISO food safety certification underway in EU

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Codex alimentarius

SGS says it has issued the first ISO 22000 certification to a food
processor in Spain, marking one of the first general uses of the
supply chain standard in the EU.

ISO 22000 is new global standard on managing food safety in plants, first published by the International Organisation for Standardardisation (ISO) this September.

It is a specific standard for food processors setting out safety management procedures. The standard will play a key part in the efforts by governments and regulators to keep contaminants out ofthe food chain. It will also be a key method for global processors to ensure that their suppliers around the world are following approved food safety standards.

SGS said it issued the first certification in Spain on 4 October to Angulas Aguinaga. The company, founded in 1974 in Guipúzcoa, Basque Country, is a manufacturer of Gula del Norte, asuccedaneous of eel produced from Alaskan haddock and then transformed, coloured and textured as eel.

The quality management system is being implemented by Angulas Aguinaga, as well as the company's own laboratory, SGS stated.

The ISO estimates there are about 20 different schemes in various countries worldwide relating to food safety and the supply chain, each providing for various levels of checks, balances andprocedures. This generates risks of uneven levels of food safety, confusion over requirements, and increased cost and complication for suppliers that find themselves obliged to conform to multipleprogrammes.

ISO 22000 will make it easier for organisations worldwide to implement the Codex HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system for food hygiene in a harmonised way, ISO stated in itsrelease of the standard.

"In addition, food safety management systems that conform to ISO 22000 can be certified - which answers the growing demand in the food sector for the certification of suppliers -although the standard can be implemented without certification of conformity, solely for the benefits it provides,"​ the organisation stated.

The standard will apply to organisations ranging from feed producers, primary producers through food manufacturers, transport and storage operators and subcontractors to retail and food serviceoutlets. Related organisations such as producers of equipment, packaging material, cleaning agents, additives and ingredients will also be affected.

"The standard has become necessary because of the significant increase of illnesses caused by infected food in both developed and developing countries,"​ ISO stated.

The standard extends the ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standard, which is widely implemented in all sectors but does not specifically address food safety. The development of ISO22000 was based on the assumption that the most effective food safety systems are designed, operated and continually improved within the framework of a structured management system, and incorporatedinto a company's overall management activities, the organisation stated.

While ISO 22000 can be implemented on its own, it is designed to be compatible with ISO 9001:2000. Companies already certified to ISO 9001 will be able to easily extend their standards tocertification under ISO 22000, the organisation stated.

To help users to do so, ISO 22000 includes a table showing the correspondence of its requirements with those of ISO 9001:2000.

ISO 22000:2005 is the first in a family of standards. ISO/TS 22004, which is a guidance on the application of ISO 22000 for small and medium-sized processors. The guidance willbe published this month.

ISO/TS 22003, which will be published in the first quarter of 2006, deals with requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management systems.

ISO 22005, which is still under consultation, will set out the general principles for tractability in the feed and food chain.

The ISO is also working with the UN's International Trade Centre (ITC) on a check-list for small businesses and developing countries.

ISO 22000 was developed within ISO by experts from the food industry, along with representatives of international organisations and in cooperation with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the bodyjointly established by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization to develop food standards.

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