ISO 22000

Why are ISO Standards important in the food industry?

October 13th, 2021 By Kaytieduffield

As humans, we rely on food to survive. Since consuming food is an essential part of our day-to-day life, the food industry is always in high demand and under serious scrutiny. Therefore, it is crucial for anyone involved in the food industry to manage their food safety and minimise hazards. There are 4 common hazards the food industry needs to consider:

  1. Microbiological hazards – including bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.
  2. Chemical hazards – such as pesticides, cleaning substances, pest control, and food additives
  3. Physical hazards – including packaging, glass, pest droppings, hair, etc.
  4. Allergens & cross-contamination

Ensuring the quality and safety of your product is why ISO standards are so important. Most food we eat today goes through multiple journeys before reaching our plate. Therefore, it is crucial to take extra precautions when manufacturing, transporting, and distributing food. Guaranteeing that the food we consume is safe from a hygienic and bacterial standpoint is vital. Not complying with food safety can result in a consumer becoming seriously ill, which can damage your reputation, result in severe fines, and in extreme cases, can directly result in company closure or liquidation.

There are specific ISO standards that businesses can use in the food industry to cut down on hazards associated with the making or manufacturing of food. Depending on your particular business, the benefits of ISO standards may differ. However, one of the most popular standards for food safety is the ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System.

What is ISO 22000?

ISO 22000 was specially created to ensure the safe operation of those within the food industry. It provides a framework for measuring and assessing food safety risks and performance, including all aspects of the supply chain. ISO 22000 validates your ability to comply with hygiene standards, HACCP food safety procedures and confirms you have a robust Food Safety Management System in place.

What are the benefits of ISO 22000 certification?

Food safety systems, such as ISO 22000, provides a business with a set of policies and procedures to appropriately review and analyse food safety risks and hazards. ISO 22000 is the leading certification for the food industry because it is internationally recognised and based on the Annex SL framework, which comprises the continual improvement model.

There are many benefits of an ISO 22000 certification; depending on what aspect of the food industry you operate in, benefits may vary. Below is an overview of the general benefits an ISO 22000 can offer:

  • Enables you to view a comprehensive, systematic, and proactive approach to identifying food safety hazards and implement effective control measures
  • ISO 22000 allows you to follow the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles more easily
  • Compliance with current food safety standards across different continents
  • ISO 22000 will document all techniques, methods, and procedures in a thoroughly systematic way
  • Increased traceability, efficiency, and resourcefulness in the food chain
  • Enables you to participate in large scale food chains around the world, helping you enter new international markets
  • Ensures that your supply chain is secure to meet growing food requirements

Which ISO standards benefit food manufacturers? 

ISO 22000 is relevant for any business or company that deals with food. However, it’s prudent to address that there are several different types of food manufacturing, and some may benefit from multiple standards. The food industry is very diverse, especially from a global perspective. There are approximately 30 different industries within the food and drink manufacturing trade. 

Different food industries may require different standards. If you manufacture food products, it’s almost certain you are familiar with ISO 9001. Not only is ISO 9001 the leading Management System Standard, but it is also highly prevalent in the manufacturing world and becoming more popular within the food industry. Most manufacturers are certified to the ISO 9001 standard; however, implementing an ISO 22000 to run alongside your QMS brings additional benefits for food manufactures.

It is advantageous to have the ISO 22000 and ISO 9001 run adjacent to each other, as the ISO 22000 measures policies and procedures for the manufacturing and handling of food, whereas the ISO 9001 measures quality with the everyday running of the company. Together, both can benefit your company immensely if implemented correctly, through continual improvement in the company’s operations, food preparation, manufacturing and distributing.

Some other ISOs that are worth exploring:

  • ISO 45001 – Several manufacturing companies operate heavy machinery; therefore, having an ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System ensures your staff’s safety. Resulting in increased staff morale, knowing their employer cares for and protects their staff.
  • ISO/IEC 27001 – As with any company that holds data, an information security management system can help protect your valuable data and prove your commitment to protecting your customers, not only with food safety measures but also by safely storing and processing their personal data.
  • ISO 14001 – Specific industries, such as grain mills or any industry that grows or handles natural products (such as the fruit and vegetable industry), can benefit from an ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification. This commitment shows that you care for the environment and work sustainably.

Do I need both ISO 9001 and ISO 22000?

It depends; when reviewing your company’s current policies and procedures, if you feel they require improvement, then an ISO 9001 should be considered. As previously mentioned, the main difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 is that ISO 9001 is specific to the quality and every day running of the company. In contrast, ISO 22000 is specific to the food safety aspect of the business and was created specifically for the food industry. Both are based on the Annex SL framework, which encourages continual improvement with a systematic approach. Combining ISO 9001 with an ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System ensures your company operates to its highest potential and creates a holistic management system under a similar framework.

Other industry standards you may be familiar with include FSSC 22000 and the HACCP standard. We often receive questions about how ISO 22000 relates to these. The following sections will explain the differences between the ISO 22000 and the other mentioned standards.

What is the difference between FSSC 22000 and ISO 22000? 

While based on ISO 22000, the FSSC (Food Safety System Certification) 22000 standard is a very similar approach but takes certification to the next level. FSSC 22000 and ISO 22000 are associated with each other, as they both focus on food safety within a company. FSSC 22000 is a strategic next step after ISO 22000 certification for those who want a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification.

The main differences are that the FSSC 22000 contains additional requirements, including the pre-requisite programme (PRP), which provides specific controls for food factory operating conditions.

What is the difference between HACCP and ISO 22000? 

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a standard developed in the 1960s by scientists for NASA. Creating a system to guarantee the food that astronauts consume is free of defects and can be safely eaten without worrying about contamination or hazards from the manufacturing and preparation of the food.

The HACCP standard is still used as a benchmark for food safety that companies can independently achieve. In contrast, ISO 22000 requires third-party compliance and necessary credentials to prove certification. The main differences are that HACCP focuses on seeking and controlling food hazards, whereas an ISO certification encompasses food safety while also exploring the business process deeper. ISO 22000 addresses the business’s policies and procedures connected to the food safety element of the standard.

In conclusion, ISO standards are critical in the food industry, as we rely on the consumption of food and drink every day. With so many things that could go wrong within the food industry, food safety standards are becoming even more critical.

If you want to find out more information on ISO 22000, you can download our introductory guide below.

Food Safety Guide

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