We are all now pretty clear about washing our hands, but what about everyone else? Even more importantly, how do we know that those in the food supply chain have taken all the right hygiene steps to keep us safe?
While there are many laws and regulations to that effect, it is conformity assessment, including inspection, testing and certification, that provides the assurance that those requirements are being met. But if the testing body isn’t up to scratch, the whole system falls apart. Which is where accreditation comes in, ensuring that those conducting the assessments are competent, impartial and deliver the expected results.
ISO has developed many of the International Standards referenced by regulators for assessing the competence of inspection bodies, laboratories and certification bodies throughout the food supply chain, from crop and animal production to distribution, storage, catering, packaging and more.
These include ISO/IEC 17020, Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection, ISO/IEC 17021-1, Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems – Part 1: Requirements, and ISO/IEC 17065, Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services.
Responding to immediate industry needs, work is now underway on a set of common food-safety-specific requirements that shall be met in addition to existing standards. The upcoming ISO 22003-2, Food safety management systems – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management systems – Part 2: Requirements for bodies providing audits of food safety management system elements in conjunction with safe food product/process certification, will specify additional tailored requirements that are to be used concurrently with ISO/IEC 17065. It will include internationally accepted food safety principles and management system elements.
In addition, the technical specification ISO/TS 22003-1, which defines requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management systems, is currently being revised and upgraded to an International Standard. It will provide common elements for food safety certification supplemental to ISO/IEC 17021-1.
The new additions are developed in response to changes in industry regulations that are moving towards greater harmonization and consistency of requirements, which, ultimately, will improve the conformity assessment process – and food safety.
The ISO/IEC series of standards for conformity assessment, which includes ISO/IEC 17020, ISO/IEC 17065 and ISO/IEC 17021-1, is developed by CASCO, the ISO Committee for conformity assessment.
ISO 22003-1 and ISO 22003-2 are being developed by ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 17, Management systems for food safety, in conjunction with CASCO.
To learn more about conformity assessment and accreditation, see the dedicated page on ISO.org.