ISO 22000, Food safety management systems - Requirements for any organization in the food chain, was first published in 2005. The standard provides international harmonization in the field of food safety standards, offering a tool to implement HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) throughout the food supply chain.
The goal of ISO 22000 is to control, and reduce to an acceptable level, any safety hazards identified for the end products delivered to the next step of the food chain. (An end product is defined as a product that will not undergo any further processing or transformation by the organization.) The standard combines the following generally-recognized key elements to ensure food safety at all points of the food chain:
Requirements for good manufacturing practices or prerequisite programs; Requirements for HACCP according to the principles of the Codex Alimentarius; Requirements for a management system; Interactive communication between suppliers, customers & regulatory authorities.
ISO 22000:2005 is fully compatible with ISO 9001:2015, so it is suitable for the development of a fully integrated, risk-based management system. This also means that organizations with an existing management system should find it fairly easy to expand its scope to include ISO 22000.
ISO 22000 Certification is applicable to all the organizations dealing with food products, regardless of the size. Also for those who want to implement methods for safer production of food items. These include the feed producers, the primary producers or food manufacturers, operators dealing with transportation and storage, subcontractors and retail outlets including the service providers. All the related parameters are checked and updated timely to attain customer satisfaction.
Highlights of the standard:
While similar in philosophy to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, ISO 22000 contains clauses that are specific to the food industry, including:
- The establishment of prerequisite programs (PRPs), which define the basic conditions and activities needed to maintain a hygienic environment, both within the organization and throughout the food chain (7.2, 7.5, Annex C);
- The identification and control of food safety hazards, and the determination of an acceptable level of risk (7.4);
- The establishment of a HACCP plan, including the identification and monitoring of critical control points: process steps at which controls can be applied to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard, or reduce it to an acceptable level (7.6);
- The handling of potentially unsafe food products to ensure that they do not enter the food chain (7.10.3);
- The establishment of a food safety team responsible for tasks such as hazard analysis, selection of control measures, establishment of PRPs, and planning of internal audits (5.5 and 7.3.2);
- The information and characteristics needed for both raw materials and end products to ensure that a proper hazard analysis can be conducted (7.3.3);
- The establishment of a communications plan with external parties - such as suppliers, customers, and regulatory authorities - to ensure that food safety information is available to all (5.6.1).
The global impact of ISO 22000
Prior to ISO 22000, a great number of standards had been developed in different countries, and organizations in the food sector used their own codes to audit their suppliers. The sheer number of standards (and the costs of conforming to all of them), combined with the increased globalization of the food industry, made it nearly impossible to keep up with the different requirements in the global food market. Additionally, food-borne illnesses increased significantly in all markets, resulting in both economic losses and damaged reputations.
Why seek compliance to ISO 22000?
Compliance with the ISO 22000 standard helps organizations in the food industry because it:
- Meets food industry expectations: It is now widely known that safety hazards can develop at any point in the food chain. ISO 22000's broad applicability helps any organization to control these hazards;
- Imposes structured and targeted communications: Interactive communication, both internally and externally, is essential for the identification and control of food safety hazards;
- Subjects all control measures to hazard analysis: This thorough analysis helps the organization to more easily determine which safety hazards need to be controlled, and which combination of control measures is most effective in doing so;
- Fills the gap between ISO 9001 and HACCP: ISO 9001 does not provide guidelines for determining and controlling food safety hazards, like the critical control point (CCP) method in HACCP;
- Lower risk of liability: When an unsafe food product enters the market, the entire food chain suffers from consumers' exposure to hazards. By implementing ISO 22000, all organizations in the food chain can take responsibility for consumer safety, consequently lowering their risk of having to cover insurance payments and legal costs.