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What the difference in Food Safety Standards?


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#1 tsmith7858

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 03:51 PM

This morning I was asked by the president of our company for a comparison of ISO 22000 and SQF. After searching the web (including opinions on this site), it led me to believe that there is little difference between many of the standards. As a matter of fact, it seems most of them are starting to look more the same after each revision.

Similarities:

  • All identify PRPs as critical (with some varying degree of application)
  • All use HACCP as a base
  • All require some level of document/record control
  • All require a commitment to food safety
I understand that there are varying degrees of opinions out there but most of them seem to be based on exposure to the standard. I come from an ISO back ground so ISO 22000 translates better to me. If you grew up with BRC, SQF, IFS or EFSIS than it may seem better to you.

I the end all have the same goal and if you build a good food safety system you should be able to meet the intent of any of them.

Point in case, we passed a BRC audit several months back as we were finishing up our ISO installation and we had never looked at the BRC standard until the week before the audit. There were a few minor non conformances because of interpretation differences between the standards but all in all the system stood up well. We have also passed and AIB review for thier Consolidated Standards. Last month we were recommended for ISO 22000 certification.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we get so caught up in the different standards that we sometime forget the overall intent of all of them is the same!

Any other opinions???
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#2 Simon

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 04:13 PM

Good question, the main difference thus far is that SQF, AIB, BRC, IFS et al. are prescriptive standards whereas ISO 22000 is a management system standard and encourages the user to join up the dots.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) goal is to benchmark all major food safety standards so that any and all are accepted throughout the world. A worthy cause but not an easy task. GFSI has so far approved:

- BRC Technical Standard
- Dutch HACCP Option B
- International Food Standard
- SQF 2000

By the way the GFSI has backing from many of the major retailers, supermarkets, grocers and food manufacturers throughout the world.

The reason why ISO 22000 was not approved until recently was because it requires the user to join up the dots and that was a bit scary and too wooly for the GFSI. Hence PAS 220:2008 and FSSC 22000, which now add the detail to allow it be benchmarked against the other standards and be approved.

We are not there yet but the signs are promising for a Global suite of food safety standards that are accepted throughout the world, a bit like Visa and Mastercard.

Regards,
Simon


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#3 tsmith7858

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 06:59 PM

Simon,

Thanks for your feedback. I would like to think some day they would all be combined but until then I still say build the best system possible and let the auditors sort it out!


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#4 Simon

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 07:21 PM

Simon,

Thanks for your feedback. I would like to think some day they would all be combined but until then I still say build the best system possible and let the auditors sort it out!

I agree totally, they're paid to find conformance. The only problem with not making it easy for auditors by laying the system out in line with the standard the audit takes twice as long and to be fair auditors aren’t always the best of fun.

Regards,
Simon
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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 03:58 AM

Dear tsmith7858,

Good thread for thought-provoking. :clap: Unless you've found a very nice auditor or can offer a top-class buffet, I think you are rather auditorily optimistic that HACCP (ISO 22000 syle) = HACCP (GFSI style).

The French may say "vivre le difference" but many people (as illustrated on this forum) are berating the introduction of oPRP (= the PRP that isn't). One of the most poorly/confusedly explained major parameters I've seen in many years, particularly as ISO is not an "open source" standard like HACCP. Introduced as a compromise to internal disagreement (it seemed to me based on the preliminary wranglings) and to meet a publishing schedule. As you may have guessed I am not a fervent suppporter of this epistle. :smile:

I wonder if the space program has changed yet. :biggrin:

Rgds / Charles.C

added - noticed a recent informative article on this topic here -

http://www.foodsafet...amp;sub=sub1#1a

The No.1 item (incorrect packaging/label) in table detailing root causes of FDA recalls is somewhat astonishing to me, allergen warnings (or lack of) perhaps ?? (also not quite sure how this result is equated to the article conclusion that 88% of recalls related to lack of adherence to GMP standards ??)

Strange that in their own comparison, GFSI do not appear to find the introduction of oPRP a significant difference with respect to their "own" HACCP. Perhaps I've been missing something.

I also found this paragraph (and particularly my underlined bit) illuminating with respect to ISO 22000 if authoritative -

When comparisons are made, it is important to compare not only the standards but also the guidance documents. The guidance document for ISO 22000 is ISO 22004. In addition, both SQF 2000 and BRC have guidance documents. These documents present information on how the standard should be interpreted. Some individuals tend to misread these documents. The normative standard is written using the words “shall” or “must.” The guidance documents are written using the word “should.” These guidance documents present a state-of-the-art interpretation. Many auditors and certification bodies expect that the food processor will implement the interpretation in the guidance. There is an exception if the food processor implements a component of the food safety system that exceeds the description in the guidance documents and is demonstrated with a validation document.


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#6 tsmith7858

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 01:32 PM

Charles,

Thanks for the article and the insights.


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#7 Simon

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 07:28 AM

Charles,

Thanks for the article and the insights.

I think you mentioned somehwere tsmith that the important thing is that you have a food safety management system based on risk assessement, or something like that. It's quite simple really; all of the complications have been added by the commercialisim of standards and the scent of a quick buck $£$£$£$.

Regards,
Simon
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#8 nateb

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 03:27 PM

...I the end all have the same goal and if you build a good food safety system you should be able to meet the intent of any of them. ...


I agree that all standards, if followed, will provide a reliable system that ensures high quality, safe food. In my limited experience, the difference between the standards is in how one proves to an auditor that the food safety system is working. I know BRC is heavy on Risk Assessment. SQF seems to be heavy on procedures ("Say what you do"). We've been through a few customer audits recently that are based on the SQF system. I've lost a lot of points for systems that are in place and well documented simply because I didn't have a phrase on paper somewhere saying that I WILL have a system in place and well documented.

In talking with customers and colleagues, the choice of what system to adopt seems to be based mostly on what the company is familiar with or what resources are available to aid compliance.
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#9 Tony-C

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 07:52 AM

In talking with customers and colleagues, the choice of what system to adopt seems to be based mostly on what the company is familiar with or what resources are available to aid compliance.


I am sure there will always be a debate about which certification standard is better.

IMO the choice should be based on your customers and their preferences, after all we are in business to try and make a profit and our customers are an integral part of this.

The problem comes I guess if you have different customers specifying different certifications although I believe that some certification bodies are offering multiple certification audits now.
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#10 Simon

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 08:54 PM

I am sure there will always be a debate about which certification standard is better.

IMO the choice should be based on your customers and their preferences, after all we are in business to try and make a profit and our customers are an integral part of this.

The problem comes I guess if you have different customers specifying different certifications although I believe that some certification bodies are offering multiple certification audits now.

Agree 100%.
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#11 Quah

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:57 AM

All the system equally benefit the processor & end user if implement positively. With nowaday customer driven market, the standard appears to drive according to customer/ region needs, isn't it?


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#12 Simon

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 07:59 PM

All the system equally benefit the processor & end user if implement positively. With nowaday customer driven market, the standard appears to drive according to customer/ region needs, isn't it?

Yes Quah, we have discussed this issue a few times on the forums and I believe the consensus amongst members is exactly that.

Regards,
Simon
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