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  1. Food Safety Certification: A Necessary Investment

    Other issues driving U.S. retailers and manufacturers to focus more on food safety is the increasing complexity of the global supply chain and the large number of products that are sourced from high risk areas such as China, India and Latin America.

    Store brands retailers today are keenly focused on food safety, and manufacturer testing and certification. In fact, an industry survey conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum (CIES) in 2007 and again in 2009 found that food safety moved up from the number seven slot to number two in importance among retailers and manufacturers.

    Competition also is spurring retailers to be more proactive. In early 2008, Walmart became the first U.S. grocer to adopt Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) standards, requiring private label suppliers and select food products companies to comply with standards above FDA or USDA requirements. GFSI requires food suppliers to achieve factory audit certification against one of its recognized standards, which include International Food Standard (IFS) or an equivalent such as Global-GAP, Safe Quality Food (SQF) or British Retail Consortium (BRC).

    Then, in the summer of 2009 Target notified all of its store brand suppliers that it required them to become GFSI certified by the end of 2010. When market leaders such as Walmart and Target take action, others follow. More and more U.S. retailers –– such as Supervalu, Publix, Food Lion, Loblaws, Wegmans and others –– have committed to GFSI as well.


    While the certification and training process can be somewhat costly and painstaking for both manufacturers and retailers, the good news is that the disciplines yield positive business results, according to a new study conducted by the University of Rostock in Germany. Food processing companies with IFS certification realize dramatic reductions in food recalls, error/defect rates, customer complaints/claims and regulatory issues, according to the research.

    The data is compelling. Respondents experienced up to a:

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    Furthermore, a majority of companies realized sales improvement. In fact, 55 percent saw up to a 10 percent increase in sales; another 14 percent experienced a 10 to 20 percent sales increase.

    Furthermore, a majority of companies realized sales improvement. In fact, 55 percent saw up to a 10 percent increase in sales; another 14 percent experienced a 10 to 20 percent sales increase.


    In total, 62.1 percent of those surveyed consider the IFS Food standard as “good” and “very good” from a process optimization viewpoint. From management standpoint, 37.9 percent considered IFS Food to be “good” and “very good.” A vast majority of respondents reported that they made investments in IFS Food standards when it was introduced. Of the 89 percent of respondents who made financial investments, 70 percent rated their expenditures as “medium,” 14.5 percent as “low,” and 16 percent as “high.”


    Approximately one in five survey participants (22.3 percent) are classified as fruit and vegetable manufacturers and/or processors. Meat producers and processors represented 10 percent of respondents, dried goods 10.9 percent and sweets 10.5 percent. More than one quarter of those surveyed (26.4 percent) are or were also certified under more than one GFSI benchmarked certification. One third still work under a management system certified under ISO 9001, and only 5.4 percent report an established management system under ISO 22000. The environmental management system is managed according to ISO 14001 in 6.3 percent of respondents.

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    Food safety and certification is a business imperative for manufacturers and processors. If the University of Rostock research is not compelling enough, retailers and manufacturers should consider their most important customer — the consumer, whose confidence in the U.S. food supply chain is shaken.

    “Over the past several years, nationwide food safety alerts or recalls involving spinach, beef, peanut butter, chili sauce, tomatoes, peppers, peanut products and pistachios have exposed weaknesses in our food safety net and diminished consumer confidence in the safety and security of the food supply,” the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) wrote in its 2009 white paper on supply chain initiatives to improve food safety titled “Prevention, Partnership and Planning.” The food safety alert and recalls highlight the need to modernize and strengthen the country’s food safety system, according to GMA.
    “Food manufacturers are ultimately responsible for providing consumers with safe products and for ensuring that those products meet all applicable standards. However, accredited third party certification bodies can play a critical role in efforts to continually improve the safety of our food supplies,” GMA wrote.

    Consumer confidence in food safety remains fragile, according to research conducted in 2009 by the Food Marketing Institute. A majority of shoppers (72 percent) said they are “somewhat” confident in the safety of food in U.S. supermarkets versus 11 percent who said they are “very confident.” The report also found that nearly one third (31 percent) of consumers stopped purchasing a food product because of safety concerns.

    Unchanged from 2008, the majority of shoppers (89 percent) trust grocery stores to sell safe food, but have less trust in the government to make sure the food they purchase is safe:

    “The USDA and FDA are entrusted to protect the American public from unsafe food and the accompanying illnesses and death. In recent years, that trust appears to have eroded,” according to the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. Food recalls increased 135 percent from 240 to 565 between 2006 and 2008, according to the 2009 Food Industry Report.

    Confirmed laboratory cases of foodborne illnesses reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increased 46 percent between 2000 and 2008, while the number of cases per 100,000 population went up 21 percent from 33 to 40, according to CDC data quoted by the University of Minnesota.

    “A lack of, or decline in, confidence in the safety of food can lead to irrational actions ranging from consumer boycotts of product categories to media scares claiming to be documentaries,” the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota wrote as part of its food safety and defense tracking project. “It can lead to social causes around food, political pressure for more food inspection and government monitoring, trade restrictions, or a demand for local foods.”

    While increased government regulation and inspection may help improve food safety, the best course of action for the food industry is self-monitoring and vigilance.

    Food processing companies should consider all of their certification options to ensure they’re choosing what’s right for their organizations. Though third-party certification is not a one-stop shop for the elimination of food safety challenges, the IFS Standard provides a strong basis for prevention and continuous improvement.

    The results of the University of Rostock study confirm significant cost savings on many levels through the implementation of the IFS Food Safety and Quality Standard.

    Author Biography:

    IFS is an umbrella brand for globally recognized standards in food, logistics, household and personal care, broker, and cash-andcarry/wholesale developed by the associated members of the German retail federation, hauptverband des Deutschen einzelhandels (hDe), and of its French counterpart, Fédération des entreprises du Commerce et de la Distribution (FCD), along with input from retailers in italy, Switzerland, poland, Spain, and austria. IFS Food is a global uniform quality assurance and food safety standard accepted under the Global Food Safety initiative (GFSI).

    For more information see: www.ifs-certification.com

    Contact: George Gansner, IFS north america at 314-686-4610 or by emailing: ifs-us@ifs-certification.com.

  2. FSSC 22000 set to become the Global FSMS Standard

    FSSC 22000 Accredited Certification

    The Foundation for Food Safety Certification announced late last year that accredited FS22000 certification will be allowed from January 1, 2011. All certification bodies have been asked to contact their accreditation bodies as soon as possible to make an appointment for an audit against the FS22000 scheme, version July 2010. This means that accreditation decisions will be made in the coming months. When a certification body achieves accreditation the already issued certificates have to be changed into accredited certificates. Unaccredited certification is in principle not allowed from 1 July 2011. New certification bodies have nine months from the date of the letter of intent to become accredited.

    The Foundation for Food Safety Certification

    The Foundation for Food Safety Certification was founded in 2004 as a non-profit organization and has been developing the FSSC 22000 certification scheme for certification of food manufacturers ever since. This development is supported by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA). The scheme, which incorporates ISO 22000: 2005 and PAS 220, is intended for the audit and certification of the food safety system of food manufacturers that manufacture perishable animal or vegetal products, products with long shelf life at ambient temperature or (bio)chemical products for food manufacturing.

    GFSI Approval a Key to Success

    Fundamental to the success of the scheme was GFSI approval. In order to meet the GFSI requirements there must be a certification scheme with an acceptable standard and an audit protocol and the scheme must have copyright which is held by an identified legal entity, or have made appropriate application for such copyright. This is why PAS 220 was so important to support the requirements of ISO 22000 which failed to define specific prerequisite requirements that are needed to meet GFSI approval.

    PAS 220 & ISO/TS 22002-1:2009

    PAS 220 was developed by BSI as a fast track means of getting the document into publication as the development time for an ISO Standard is typically 3 to 5 years. The specification was developed under sponsorship, through CIAA, of 4 multinational companies – Kraft, Danone, Unilever and Nestle. The Technical Author was Steve Mould of Kraft Foods, and the steering team included representatives from FDF, McDonalds, Unilever, LRQA, CIASA, ProCert and members of the ISO 22000 working group. BSI PAS 220 was developed specifically to define prerequisite programmes for manufacturing operations to support ISO 22000 and ensure that the FSSC 22000 scheme met the GFSI requirements.

    The requirements of ISO/TS 22002-1 and PAS220 are identical and so the FSSC Board accepts ISO/TS 22002-1 equally with PAS220. PAS 220 & ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 specify detailed requirements to be specifically considered in relation to ISO 22000:2005, 7.2.3. In addition, they add other aspects which are considered relevant to manufacturing operations: 1) rework; 2) product recall procedures; 3) warehousing; 4) product information and consumer awareness; 5) food defence, biovigilance, and bioterrorism.

    PAS 220 defines requirements for:

    – Construction, layout buildings & facilities
    – Layout premises, workspace, employee facilities
    – Supplies of utilities (like air, water, energy)
    – Supporting activities (like waste, sewage)
    – Suitability of equipment
    – Management purchased materials
    – Prevention cross contamination
    – Cleaning and sanitising
    – Pest control
    – Personnel hygiene
    – Rework
    – Product recall
    – Warehousing
    – Product information, consumer awareness
    – Food defense, biovigilance, bioterrorism

    Section 7 of ISO 22000: 2005 stipulates the requirements for the planning and realization of safe products and specifically in clause 7.2 those for Prerequisite programmes (PRPs). The standard requires and organisation to establish, implement and maintain prerequisite programmes by considering and utilizing appropriate information. Examples given include statutory and regulatory requirements, customer requirements, recognized guidelines, Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) principles, codes of practices, national and international standards. If you refer to the CODEX Recommended International Code of Practice General Principles of Food Hygiene contents in the appendix you will see that a lot of the requirements of ISO/TS 22002-1 and PAS220 were covered by the CODEX guidelines in the first place. The problem being the certification scheme required extra specific prerequisites for food manufacturers and additional prerequisites including food defense systems in order to be approved.

    The FSSC 22000 certification scheme was recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) last year. This was a key step in the goal of achieving International recognition. For acceptance of FSSC 22000 from the food chain, it needed to be recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as an equivalent to the other recognized schemes. When FS22000 was fully recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative Board of Directors, Jürgen Matern, Chairman of GFSI said: ''The GFSI Board of Directors is pleased to recognise the development of this scheme which has been a true collaboration of stakeholders across the whole food chain”.

    Although the Foundation for Food Safety Certification legally owns the FS 22000 food safety systems certification scheme it is a non profit foundation. The responsibility and authority for the content of the scheme and the certification audits is the independent Board of Stakeholders which are represented by stakeholders from the food supply chain. FSSC claim this means that FSSC 22000 is independent from any specific stakeholder and ensures international commitment. The nature of the scheme means that organisations that want to be certified need to purchase at least two standards and this could possibly affect the scheme when other GFSI approved schemes standards are available for free. This may be balanced by cheaper audit and certification costs as the scheme is claiming to be non-profit.

    The Foundation publishes a register of certified organizations on: http://www.fssc22000.com/. The certification bodies are obliged to provide an insight into the certified organizations and they are responsible for keeping the register up to date.

    A Standard with Worldwide Credibility

    As the scheme is based on an ISO standard it has worldwide credibility and clearly there is a benefit of a truly independent certification scheme which has worldwide recognition. The global recognition of ISO presents an opportunity to gain worldwide acceptance of the FSSC 22000 food safety management scheme for the whole food chain.

    The Road to FSSC 22000 Certification

    Food Safety Management System Certification can be seen by some Senior Managers as an unnecessary and bureaucratic activity. For this reason Senior Management need to understand the benefits of an effective Food Safety Management System:

    • A Food Safety Management System structured with the principles of HACCP will have a clear focus on food safety which is a fundamental requirement of any food business
    • An effectively implemented and applied HACCP based Food Safety Management System will improve customer confidence in the safety of food
    • A Food Safety Management System based on HACCP takes a preventative approach that is designed to reduce and liabilities
    • An effective Food Safety Management System demonstrates management commitment to the supply of safe products
    • Food Safety Management System Records provide evidence of due diligence
    • HACCP based Food Safety Management Systems can be combined with other management systems such as ISO 9001:2008. This combination provides a Food Safety based system also considers quality
    • Certification to an internationally recognised scheme gives all interested parties a clear message that the organisation is serious about Food Safety
    In order to ensure a Food Safety Management System is effectively implemented management within an organisation need to understand:
    • The benefits of a Food Safety Management System
    • How lack of an effective Food Safety Management System can cause food borne illness
    • That a HACCP based Food Safety Management System really is a minimal system to ensure maximum control
    • That a HACCP based Food Safety Management System enables businesses to optimise the use of resources by control of CCPs in an logical manner
    IFSQN FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management System (Food Manufacturers version and

    The IFSQN FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems have been designed to overcome the problems that can be encountered when implementing an effective system including:
    • Lack of pre-requisite programmes
    • Over-complex and unmanageable systems with too many critical control points (CCPs), partly resulting from a misunderstanding of the role of prerequisite hygiene programs (PRPs) and an inability to conduct proper hazard analysis.
    • Ineffective monitoring and corrective actions due to poor training and verification procedures.
    • Excessive documentation and lack of focus due to over-complex systems.
    • Poor validation and verification due to lack of expertise.
    • Over complication of HACCP implementation
    When a business has a good understanding of Food Safety principles and has the commitment and resources to carry them out, a Food Safety Management System will deliver the promised benefits. Small to medium organisations found in the food industry, have fewer resources compared with large companies, and so find it difficult to implement an effective system.

    The IFSQN FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems are designed to help organisations tackle the task of implementing an effective system and progress to certification. As Tony Connor of IFSQN explains the FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems give organisations a head start in developing their system and preparing for certification:

    “The systems include Food Safety Procedures covering a comprehensive range of prerequisite programmes which enable an organisation to put in place fundamental food safety procedures that are compliant with the FSSC 22000 scheme. The system also provides guidance on how to manage and implement a HACCP system and determine critical control points (CCPs). This process is aided by our implementation training guides and checklists which completely simplify the implementation process.”

    “As a bonus our FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management System is backed up by expert support which is always available to provide assistance in developing the system.”

    For more information visit the following web page: IFSQN Food Safety Management Systems

    • Jun 16 2014 08:30 AM
    • by Tony-C
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