Unsure you are doing your food safety system right? A new standard can help you

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Por Maria Lazarte
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As a food manufacturer or a regulator, safety is one of your biggest concerns. But how can you make sure that your food safety management system (FSMS) follows global best practice? If you are looking for advice to ensure your FSMS is up to standard, then ISO 22004 can help you out.

The basics

ISO 22004 is part of the ISO 22000 family of standards. ISO 22000 is the International Standard for food safety management. Unlike other FSMSs, ISO 22000 is unique in that it has an extra layer of hazards control. Most FSMSs require:

  • Prerequiste programmes (PRPs)
  • Critical control points (CCPs)

However, in addition to those two, ISO 22000 adds a third layer:

  • Operation prerequisite programmes (OPRPs)

What does this all mean?

If the acronyms and the terminology are getting to you, then you will understand why ISO 22004 is useful.

The parent standard, ISO 22000, gives you all you need to set up an FSMS. It follows the same format as all other ISO management system standards and this consistency makes it easier for organizations to implement multiple ones. However, for many of us, additional guidance would be helpful and this is exactly what ISO 22004 gives you.

What’s in it for you?

ISO 22004 is a companion and a guide to ISO 22000, and does not add any new requirements. But because it is a guidance document, it goes into more detail and focuses on areas that may need more explanation.

According to Claus Heggum, Co-convenor of the working group that developed the standard, ISO 22004 just makes things easier. “Say you are designing a food control system and are struggling on how to categorize the different control measures you have at your disposal in your hazard control programme,” he says, “ISO 22004 will help you to smoothly differentiate between PRPs, OPRPs and CCPs, which is not always easy to do!”

With ISO 22004 you will learn that typical PRP measures include basic precautions like washing your hands, keeping the processing area tidy or a basic cleaning programme.

CCPs on the other hand are the most important and efficient hazard reduction measures, like a cooking or heating step that kills bacteria.

An OPRP is an in-between safety measure, like cold storage.

“There is much more that you can learn from ISO 22004, like understanding the difference between monitoring, verification and validation,” says Claus. “ISO 22004 will make it easier for users to apply and adapt ISO 22000 to their own specific contexts.”

Who is it for?

ISO 22004 will be useful for any organization in the food supply chain looking to implement a food safety management system based on ISO 22000, from feed producers and primary producers through food manufacturers, transport and storage operators, and subcontractors, to retail and food service outlets (as well as related organizations such as producers of equipment, packaging materials, cleaning agents, additives and ingredients). Service providers will also find it helpful.

Want to find out more? Get the standard from your national standards body or the ISO Store.

Maria Lazarte
Maria Lazarte

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