After a decade of good service, ISO 22000, the International Standard for food management systems, is undergoing a complete modification to bring it up to date with today’s new food safety requirements. The international working group (ISO/TC 34/SC 17/WG 8) in charge of the revision, whose secretariat is held by the Danish Standards Foundation (DS), ISO’s member for Denmark, held its fourth meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the week of 4 April 2016.
The standard is now at the Committee Draft (CD) stage and experts worked hard to sift through the more than 1 000 comments collated by DS on the draft standard. The agenda at the Buenos Aires meeting was to work through the various comments and incorporate them into the document. Simultaneously, WG 8 had to clarify certain key concepts. These included:
- Applying ISO’s new High-Level Structure (HLS) to ISO 22000, which is now mandatory when drafting or revising management system standards (MSS). The new structure sets a framework that makes it easier for businesses to integrate more than one MSS at a given time.
- Providing users of ISO 22000 with a new understanding of the different risk-based approaches. The “risk” concept is used in various ways and it is important for food businesses to distinguish between hazard assessment at the operational level, through the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), and the business risk where opportunities also form part of the concept.
- Providing further clarification on how the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle works by including two separate PDCA cycles in the standard, that operate one inside the other. The first will apply to the management system while the second, within it, addresses the operations described in Clause 8, which simultaneously cover the HACCP principles defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
- Giving users a clear description of the differences between Critical Control Points (CCPs), Operational Prerequisite Programmes (OPRPs) and Prerequisite Programmes (PRPs).
From farm to fork
Preventing, reducing or eliminating food safety hazards is essential to maintain a hygienic environment throughout the food chain. The revised standard will incorporate recognized key elements to ensure food safety at every step of the food chain, right up to the point of consumption. These are:
• Interactive communication along the food chain
• A systematic approach to management
• Prerequisite Programmes
• HACCP principles
The introduction of a food safety hazard can occur at any stage in the food supply chain, so it is essential to have adequate controls in place at every step of the way. Good communication is paramount to ensuring that food hazards are identified and managed at the proper operational level. Food safety can therefore only be ensured through the combined efforts of all parties along the food chain, from feed producers and primary producers through food manufacturers, transport and storage operators and subcontractors, to retailers.
A second round
Experts in Buenos Aires decided that a second CD would be necessary in order to have a more mature working document. There are major interests at stake between players in the global food chain, which means that a level of consensus has yet to be reached. The task of WG 8 is to clarify and communicate fundamental concepts in the simplest and most concise terms in order to produce a standard that is understandable and easy to implement in businesses, big or small, up and down the food chain.
There are still many challenges ahead. Going through the second draft of comments with international stakeholders will be the next milestone. The meeting is due to take place on 14–16 June 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Watch this space.