ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has published guidelines for the food and drink industry for implementing quality management systems based on ISO 9001:2000.

The new International Standard, ISO 15161, Guidelines on the application of ISO 9001:2000 for the food and drink industry, is aimed at organizations involved in all aspects of this industry sector, including sourcing, processing and packaging food and drink products. To assist the user, the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 are given in boxed text, followed by guidance relevant to the sector.

ISO 15161, which was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, costs 116 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see complete list with contact) and from ISO Central Secretariat (customerservice@iso.org).

"ISO 9001 focuses on customers' needs and expectations," the experts of ISO/TC 34 state in the introduction to the new guidelines. "One of the most important customer expectations (and often one which is implicit rather than stated directly) is to have safe food products.

"ISO 15161 allows an organization to integrate its quality management system with the implementation of food safety systems such as HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point)."

TC 34 says that any other accepted food safety system can also be integrated with the quality management system, adding, "However, considering the fact that HACCP is used comprehensively, this system was chosen to demonstrate how integration may be achieved."

According to the committee's experts, application of HACCP within an ISO 9001:2000 quality management system can result in a food safety system that is more effective than the application of either ISO 9001:2000 or HACCP alone, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and improved organizational effectiveness. Linkages between the basic HACCP principles and specific clauses of ISO 9001:2000 are shown in an annex.