How to get ISO 22000 Certification for Food Safety Management? Did you know that every year about 1 in 10 persons in the world fall ill because of consumption of contaminated or unsafe food? In 2015, about 420000 people died after consuming food that was considered unsafe for consumption of which about 125000 were children less than five years of age. What is unsafe food? Any food that contains organisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals that can cause severe damage to the human body is unsafe for consumption. Along with other issues that the world is tackling at a global level, food safety hazard is also a persisting problem that the world needs to address effectively. A food hazard is any substance that is present in the food that has the potency to cause harm to the consumer - could be an illness or an injury. There are four identified form of food hazards – microbiological hazards that consists of bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses; chemical hazards include pesticides, biocides, food additives, contaminants, pest control items, cleaning agents, water etc; physical hazards that constitute of pieces of glass, packaging, jewellery, pest dropping, screws etc.; and allergens ( EU lists about 14 listed food allergens). ISO 22000 Meaning The ISO 22000 is meant for all types of companies that are involved in the food chain - agricultural field, growers, transporters, processors, packages, stores and warehouses, retailers, bottlers, restaurants, and hotels. ISO 22000 Family is all about setting in place a proper Food Safety Management System (FSMS). ISO 22000 Food Safety Management system is based on the ISO 9001 series and has been tailored specifically to apply to Food Safety. Since food safety hazards can occur at any step in the food chain process, it is essential that all concerned parties are part of the Food Safety Management system. The first version of ISO 22000 was published by ISO in February 2005. The latest revision of this system of standards happened in June 2018. Organizations that are already certified of the older version have time till 19th June 2021 to move onto the new edition. The latest release is much more flexible than the earlier standard, in terms of its capacity to be combined more easily with other management systems. The new version of ISO 22000 also approaches risk management in a better way and is linked to Codex Alimentarius - it is a collection of internationally recognized standards related to food. The ISO 22000 standard requires the organization to develop a Food Safety Management system, document it at every step and implement the same along with the following: HACCP principles – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Plan for designing and reducing risks associated with food hazards to safe levels. Interactive communication between different parties involved in the food chain – this two-way communication can happen between the organization and customers as well as the organization and its suppliers – the purpose is to identify hazards and control them. It also means effective communication between intra-departments and the management too. The organization needs to understand and identify its role and position within the food chain and put in place an effective prerequisite program to ensure clean sanitary environment. It is vital to have in place a structured management system for the food safety management system to be a success. The ISO 22000 certification is compatible with ISO 9001 and organizations have the choice to apply the Food Safety Management system independently or integrate with other ISO management systems. Other Members of the ISO Family ISO 220001 – guidelines to apply ISO 9001: 2000 to the food and drink industry. ISO/TS 22002 – details out the pre-requisite programs on food safety. ISO TS 22003 – guidelines for auditing bodies that provide certification of food safety management systems. ISO 22005 –traceability in feed and food chain. ISO 22006 – guidance on applying ISO 9002: 2000 to crop production. Benefits of ISO 22000 Certification One of the biggest advantages of being certified as an ISO 22000 organization is the ability to provide, on a consistent basis, safe food products and services to customers and meeting regulatory requirements. ISO 22000 certification makes the organization capable of handling and managing risks in the food safety process. With the new version linked to Codex Alimentarius, which is Food code developed by the United Nations as a series of standards and food safety guidelines for governments, the organization can look at developing business in new markets, especially the international market. ISO 22000 Certification Process ISO mentions that certification is not a mandatory requirement as organizations derive benefit from using the standard alone without seeking ISO 22000 certification. The process for setting up the system is as follows:- The organization first needs to decide upon a Food Safety Policy. The top management plays a crucial role here as they are the ones who develop the policy. Objectives need to be defined to make the organization compliant with the above policy The food safety management system needs to be planned and designed. All steps and processes need to be properly documented. A food safety team needs to be formed. The team leader needs to be identified. The internal, as well as external communication procedures, need to be put into place. An emergency plan needs to be designed. Management review meetings to be held to evaluate the performance of the FSMS on a routine basis. The top management will evaluate the data and then address problem areas. Provision of adequate and required resources is an important step for the effective operation of the Food Safety Management System. Pre-requisite programs (PRPs) need to be implemented – this is important to maintain a hygienic environment. Based on HACCP, the food safety team needs to create and implement a plan for each product or process. The basic purpose is to identify hazards and to do so the team prepares flowcharts describing process steps. Control points are identified and all processes are documented including the process of controlling hazards, critical limits, corrective actions to be undertaken, responsible authorities etc. In order to implement a system of traceability, it is essential to document all control processes for products and processes that cross critical control limits. Internal audits to happen on a regular basis to comprehend the performance of the Food Safety Ma System. The performance needs to be recorded at regular intervals. The Food Safety Management System needs to be monitored continually, results measured for performance evaluation and corrective measures are to be applied on a continuous basis. Organizations involved in the food industry generally follow these practices but they do not document it formally. Documentation helps the system get more effective and efficient. Organisations that wish to get the certificate need to hire the services of a reputed third-party certifying body. This external agency will audit the entire FSMS of the organization, also called the Certification audit. If the system is found to be compliant with the standard and its requirements, they will recommend the organization for certification. Validity of ISO 22000 Certification The ISO 22000 certificate is valid for a period of three years subject to a yearly monitoring audit that is done by the third party. A re-certification audit takes place at the end of the three-year term.