Food Safety Management Systems for the International Supply Chain

Standardized food safety and quality management have been well established in the United States and the European Union. Since much of the food industry is highly internationalized, both in general supply chain and in contract manufacturing, there are substantial business needs for internationally standardized safety and quality systems.

ISO 22000, released in September 2005, is the international auditable standard designed to ensure safe food in worldwide supply chains. It makes it feasible for all parts of the worldwide food chain from producers, processors, transport and retail outlets to implement HACCP for food safety in a standardized way.

In addition, food safety management systems that conform to ISO 22000 can be certified, which speaks to the growing demand in the food industry for vendor certification programs. ISO 22000 extends the successful management system approach of the ISO 9001 quality management standard, which does not itself specifically address food safety.

ISO 22000 is based on the assumption that the dependable and effective food safety systems are designed, operated and continually improved within the framework of a structured production management system, and incorporated into the overall management activities of the organization. It is the best and most effective strategy to incorporate food safety into the overall organizational and management system. The current models and standards provide the road map to achieve this.

Serving the International Supply Chain

The worldwide food and ingredients market includes ever increasing outsourcing and contract production. This commercial reality has driven the need for an auditable, standard food safety system. The question is how to develop and maintain a system across both the enterprise and extended supply chain that will produce supply chain safety and quality success.

Food production is heavily regulated in all important aspects including food safety, portion size, quality and grading. Since a failure upstream in the supply chain can have serious commercial and regulatory impact, it is good business practice to develop and maintain the systems’ infrastructure that will help maximize food safety and quality compliance at all points in the supply chain.

Each food processor should periodically examine its supply chain quality management system to determine if it meets the demands of ISO 22000 compliance. What are the model and the system infrastructure that enable this level of performance?

Standards Among us – What to Do and How to Do it International professional, industry and standards organizations have put great effort and expertise to solve supply chain quality and safety management. Using these standards allows us to benefit from this composite group expertise.

What to do? One group of standards enables us to define food safety and quality performance goals and the organizational infrastructure and operating procedures that support these efforts. How to do it? A second set of standards describes how to define, build and maintain effective manufacturing management information systems.

The reality in the food industry is that management generally has some familiarity with the standards that explain what to do, but often is not well versed in the standards that can lead them to establishing a successful information management infrastructure.

Management can use these standards to provide them with the distillation of industry best practices and to guide them on the path to greatest likelihood of success.

What to Do?

Two ISO standards set goals for food processing firms that are involved in international trade. ISO 9001 describes a quality system model that is universally recognized. The recently accepted ISO 22000 supplies an international recognized food safety model that suppliers and processors can develop widely accepted HACCP systems.

While the ISO standards are providing well-defined operational targets, they are not specific as to the organizational and system infrastructures that will enable the food industry to dependably reach the goals. What problems need to be recognized to get the desired result?

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