ISO standards play an important role in the food industry, both for trade purposes and in order to ensure that food is safe for consumption.
Food safety is obviously a well-regulated area, so there is a long history of collaboration between the Codex (the international forum for food regulators) and ISO/TC 34, Food products.
Who is involved?
Codex and ISO activities are complementary. Codex, as a governmental organization, prepares documents to assist governments in their statutory and regulatory task of protecting their citizens from health hazards caused by food consumption. ISO, as a non-governmental organization, prepares standards on test methods to assist stakeholders along the whole food chain to fulﬁl both the statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as the requirements of consumers of these products.
How is regulatory cooperation in this ﬁeld achieved?
The Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling endorses analytical and test methods from various standards writing bodies, following recommendations from the relevant Codex Commodity Committee. In the ﬁeld of milk and milk products, ISO/TC 34/SC 5, Food products — Milk and milk products, and the International Dairy Federation (IDF) work together to prepare methods of analysis that are published jointly. Most of these analytical methods are endorsed by the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling. Several analysis methods from ISO/TC 34/SC 9, Food products — Microbiology, have also been endorsed by this committee as have standards from ISO/TC 34/SC 4, Food products — Cereals and pulses, and ISO/TC 34/SC 11, Food products — Animal and vegetable fats and oils. More than a hundred standards by ISO/TC 34 have now been endorsed by Codex as the ofﬁcial test method.
In 2005, ISO/TC 34 published ISO 22000, Food safety management systems – Requirements for any organization in the food chain, which is based on a management systems approach similar to that detailed in ISO 9001 as well as on the Codex hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system. The HACCP system is widely accepted worldwide, but it has been implemented in different ways in different countries. In addition, retailer organizations have prepared documents (British Retail Consortium and International Food Standard) for the establishment and auditing of food safety systems, possibly including HACCP requirements. ISO 22000 should help to clarify and harmonize the present situation. Codex played an active role in the development of ISO 22000.
ISO/TC 34 also developed ISO 22005, Traceability in the feed and food chain – General principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation. The traceability of food products “from farm to fork” is an important requirement. This standard is intended to complement the Codex work on traceability, as it explains the design of a suitable system.