According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), nearly 690 million people are hungry and the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially add a further 83 to 132 million people. What’s more, around 14 % of food produced is lost each year somewhere between farm to market. Yet much can be done to reduce these numbers and improve food distribution worldwide.
ISO has over 1 600 standards for the food production sector designed to create confidence in food products, improve agricultural methods and promote sustainable and ethical purchasing. They also cover a number of other areas including nutritional and safety testing, quality, packaging and traceability.
As we celebrate World Food Day, here are some standards to help put food on everyone’s table:
Empowering smallholder farmers
Family farmers manage some 75 % of the world’s agricultural land and produce a whopping 80 % of the world’s food, meaning we need to look after them and ensure they have fair conditions and a fair price.
The ISO 34101 series of standards for sustainable and traceable cocoa beans is one example that can help. It provides a set of guidelines for environmentally sound agricultural practices, the enhanced traceability of cocoa beans, and for improving the social conditions and livelihoods of farmers and all those involved in the cocoa supply chain.
In addition, the International Workshop Agreement IWA 29, Professional farmer organization – Guidelines, aims to build the professionalism of smallholder farmer organizations in emerging markets, enabling them to trade internationally.
Safety all the way
Keeping food safe at every step from farm to fork is essential to reduce hunger, illness and poverty. The ISO 22000 family of standards addresses food safety management by providing guidelines and best practice for managing risks in all areas of food production.
Within its broad scope, the ISO 22000 family includes standards specific to catering, food manufacturing, farming, packaging, and animal foodstuffs and feed production.
Have a heart
With standards for individual foodstuffs like ISO 20980, Artichokes – Specification and test methods, the quality and safety of food grown and traded around the world is assured. By providing specifications and test methods related to its appearance, quality, safe storage, packaging and transport, they make trade and traceability easier, improving conditions and business for everyone. They also help to encourage the entry of new crops and foodstuffs on the market by providing procedures and recommendations that everyone can understand.
ISO has hundreds of such standards, including those for fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, meat, dairy products and more.
Poor storage of foodstuffs can generate significant losses, both in terms of quality and quantity, thus contributing to hunger and placing increased pressure on producers.
ISO 6322, Storage of cereals and pulses, is just one example of many ISO food-storage standards that provide the technical guidelines for correct and safe storage, preventing post-harvest loss and improving the quality at the same time.
better social conditions for agricultural workers
ISO 26000 for social responsibility and ISO 20400 for sustainable procurement encourage socially responsible behaviour and promote ethical conditions for agricultural workers and sustainable purchasing practices throughout the entire food production chain.
What’s more, technical specification ISO/TS 26030 – a food-sector application of ISO 26000 – plays a significant role in contributing to zero hunger and better nutrition worldwide.