Harmonization of Food Safety Standards Tops the Agenda in Schiphol, The Netherlands
The 8th Meeting of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 34, Sub-Committee (SC) 17 was held on October 30, 2017, in Schiphol, The Netherlands.
The meeting brought together international experts working on different aspects of food and feed chain standard harmonization. It was attended by over 60 members of ISO/TC 34/SC 17, representing 21 national standards bodies.
With food safety remaining high on the agenda for many markets, and an increasing reliance on global food chains, there is a need for harmonization to improve food safety practices and standards. This will better protect consumers and help facilitate better international trade.
Primary drivers in the effort to improve global food safety standards are ISO and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). ISO produces international standard specifications for products, services and systems. CAC, representing members of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), produces the Codex Alimentarius. These are standards, guidelines and codes of practice, which have significantly contributed to the promotion of safety, quality and fairness in the international food sector and, in many cases, have formed the basis for national legislation.
Both organizations are revising standards relating to food safety:
- CAC/RCP-1 – General Principles for Food Hygiene + principles of HACCP system
- ISO 22000 – Food safety management systems
Following the ISO/TC 34/SC 17 meeting, a get together session allowed delegates to meet and discuss harmonizing their standards with representatives from CAC as well as public health and food safety authorities. Harmonization would allow food business operators to use ISO 22000 to establish their business and achieve third-party certification for their food management safety systems, while also being compliant with the requirements of CAC/RCP-1 and national legislation.
The session was moderated by Paul Besseling of Précon Food Management, who introduced the guest speakers including Linden Jack from the UK Food Standards Agency and co-chair of the working group on revision of CAC/RCP-1. Linden provided an update on the revision of CAC/RCP-1 and explained that the working group is currently looking at whether and how some elements of ISO 22000 can be introduced into CAC/RCP-1. She recognized that ISO 22000 provides requirements for food safety management systems to a level of sophistication that may not be applicable by all food business operators depending on their size and level of development.
Kris de Smet, from the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission, detailed the incorporation of concepts and requirements from ISO 22000 into its guidance for food business operators on implementing food safety management systems covering prerequisite programs (PRPs) and procedures based on the HACCP principles. The European Union would like to see harmonization between CAC/RCP-1 and ISO 22000, since it will remain bound to the former after its revision.
Also speaking were Hans van der A, from the Dutch Food & Consumer Product Safety Authority, and Aldin Hilbrands, representing Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000. Hans explained how his role was to evaluate private certification programs and see how third-party certification can benefit Dutch national food safety legislation, which is indeed based on EU regulations. Aldin gave a presentation on the FSSC 22000 certification program. Based on ISO 22000, it is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and has seen significant interest among countries who see the concept of FSSC 22000 certification as a way to facilitate the enforcement of national legislation. Public-private partnerships are beginning to emerge in many countries, with the goal of protecting consumer health.
The 8th Meeting of the ISO TC 34/SC17 was co-sponsored by Danone, SGS and FSSC 22000 as part of a commitment to contribute to the standardization of food safety management systems – helping to make food safe for everyone, everywhere around the world.
Dedicated to bringing health through food to as many people as possible, Danone is a leading global food company built on four business lines: Fresh Dairy Products, Early Life Nutrition, Waters and Medical Nutrition. Through its mission and dual commitment to business success and social progress, the company aims to build a healthier future, thanks to better health, better lives and a better world, for all its stakeholders—its 100,000 employees, consumers, customers, suppliers, shareholders and all the communities with which it engages.
The FSSC 22000 Food Safety System Certification scheme provides a framework for effectively managing organization's food safety responsibilities. FSSC 22000 is fully recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative and is based on existing ISO Standards. It demonstrates an organization has a robust Food Safety Management System in place that meets the requirements of customers and consumers. Currently, over 17,000 organizations in more than 140 countries worldwide achieved FSSC 22000 certification. Through our 110 licensed Certification Bodies employing some 1,500 auditors worldwide, our mission is to provide a trusted brand assurance platform to the consumer goods industry.
Précon Food Management is a Dutch consultancy group of 100 employees that supports the food supply chain in strengthening their performance in quality, food safety and sustainability. Our customers want the best for their customers and so do we. We support our customers to get the best out of their business. We work together, we can take the lead or we can back you up, whatever suits you best. From consultancy to training, from outsourcing to ad interim. Our role in society is to support the business and to service consumers with food that is healthy, safe and trustworthy.
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SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.