There is an international standard that is intended to be used within the food industry called ISO 22000. It allows organizations to understand what traditional quality assurance and preventive food safety measures should be implemented within their industry.
The laws for food safety and control have been making progress since 1883 when Dr. Harvey Wiley became chief chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He spent his time campaigning for federal laws to be enacted. He was referred to as the “Crusading Chemist” and “Father of the Pure Food and Drug Act.”
Before laws were put into place to protect consumers from unsafe foods, ancient Greece—specifically Athens—had beer and wine regulations and inspections for purity. The evolution of food safety laws has come a long way since those ancient times.
ISO 22000 is the international standard today and is benefiting businesses in many ways. Companies that develop their products by following these rules and specifications are increasingly free to compete within many markets around the world. For trade officials, ISO 22000 levels the playing field within regional and global markets. This is due to technically refined international standards and placement of political agreements, and, when followed, they create successful practices that ensure the highest quality of food and safety.
What Does This Mean for Developing Countries?
ISO 22000 has a strong consensus throughout the world and gives developing countries a source that represents what the food safety standards must be in each country, developed and developing countries alike. Such standards allow countries to have defined characteristics of what their product and service standards should be to meet export market expectations. Because developing countries are just that—developing—this gives them the ability to meet standards for exporting food, which helps them avoid squandering already scarce resources.
How Does ISO 22000 Benefit the World’s General Population?
Each individual’s quality of life will benefit from the rules and regulations of ISO 22000 by the provisions of the following:
- Higher quality jobs in the food industry
- Improved utilization of resources worldwide
- Increased company profits
- Potential increased economic growth
- Insurance of safer food
- Reduction in rates of foodborne disease
- More efficient documentation of techniques, methods and procedures
Governments will also see great benefits, such as scientific and technological knowledge, which help the development of health, safety and environmental legislation. These benefits will also provide a way to educate and regulate food personnel.
Anyone involved in the food industry should be aware of the benefits that ISO 22000 has on the processing, storage, manufacturing and distribution of edible products. It provides companies with superior food safety and security, keeps profits from dropping and can be combined with other management system standards, such as ISO 9001:2000, for maximum effects on quality.
Knowing whether ISO 22000 is right for you and your organization is simple: It works for each company, regardless of size or location. Outlining best practices within your company will allow you to deliver results, convey confidence across the board and impress stakeholders and consumers.
When food safety practices fail, dangerous and often extremely expensive consequences may result. Preventing potential problems before they happen through the implementation of food safety standards can rescue an organization from, loss, attorney fees or even having to close its doors for good.
These standards allow the identification of responsibilities, tasks and associated timelines by creating a clear project plan; keep in mind that if something is working, it doesn’t make sense to change it. Communicate the benefits of ISO 22000 clearly with employees and understand that they will have questions about the changes made within your organization. Educate them on how ISO 22000 was created to benefit employers, employees and the general public, and how it will have a positive impact on the company’s short- and long-term successes.
Susan Beech is an environmental awareness writer at Bureau Veritas.