Food safety is linked to the presence of food-borne hazards in food at the point of consumption. Since food safety hazards can occur at any stage in the food chain it is essential that adequate control be in place. Therefore, a combined effort of all parties through the food chain is required.
The ISO 22000 international standard specifies the requirements for a food safety management system that involves the following elements:
Critical reviews of the above elements have been conducted by many scientists. Communication along the food chain is essential to ensure that all relevant food safety hazards are identified and adequately controlled at each step within the food chain. This implies communication between organizations both upstream and downstream in the food chain. Communication with customers and suppliers about identified hazards and control measures will assist in clarifying customer and supplier requirements.
Recognition of the organization's role and position within the food chain is essential to ensure effective interactive communication throughout the chain in order to deliver safe food products to the final consumer.
The most effective food safety systems are established, operated and updated within the framework of a structured management system and incorporated into the overall management activities of the organization. This provides maximum benefit for the organization and interested parties. ISO 22000 has been aligned with ISO 9001 in order to enhance the compatibility of the two standards.
ISO 22000 can be applied independently of other management system standards or integrated with existing management system requirements.
ISO 22000 integrates the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system and application steps developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. By means of auditable requirements, it combines the HACCP plan with prerequisite programmes. Hazard analysis is the key to an effective food safety management system, since conducting a hazard analysis assists in organizing the knowledge required to establish an effective combination of control measures. ISO 22000 requires that all hazards that may be reasonably expected to occur in the food chain, including hazards that may be associated with the type of process and facilities used, are identified and assessed. Thus it provides the means to determine and document why certain identified hazards need to be controlled by a particular organization and why others need not.
During hazard analysis, the organization determines the strategy to be used to ensure hazard control by combining the prerequisite programmes and the HACCP plan.
ISO is developing additional standards that are related to ISO 22000. These standards will be known as the ISO 22000 family of standards. At the present time, the following standards will make up the ISO 22000 family of standards:
ISO 22000 - Food safety management systems - Requirements for any organization in the food chain.
ISO 22001 - Guidelines on the application of ISO 9001:2000 for the food and drink industry (replaces: ISO 15161:2001).
ISO/TS 22002- Prerequisite programmes on food safety—Part 1: Food manufacturing; Part 2: Catering; Part 3: Farming; Part 4: Food packaging manufacturing; Part 6: Feed and animal food production
ISO TS 22003 - Food safety management systems for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management systems.
ISO TS 22004 - Food safety management systems - Guidance on the application of ISO 22000:2005.
ISO 22005 - Traceability in the feed and food chain - General principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation.
ISO 22006 - Quality management systems - Guidance on the application of ISO 9002:2000 for crop production.
In comparison with ISO 9001, the standard is a more procedural orientated guidance than a principle based one. Apart from that, ISO 22000 is an industrial-specific risk management system for any type of food processing and marketing, which can be closely incorporated with the quality management system of ISO 9001. The detailed similarities and differences of the two standards can be found elsewhere , , ,.
In 2004, the European Office of Crafts, Trades and Small and Medium sized Enterprises for Standardisation noted that the standard is only suitable for large sized companies and small food businesses will not be able to seek such a high standard due to the lack of resources to pursue the certification. The agency suggested creating an alternative for small food businesses to achieve the same objective. EFSA is now making their efforts on the food legislations that are adaptable for the SMEs in food supply chains. A few critics also proposed that organizations which seek the standard certification should also do the same to the ISO 14001 along with the ISO 9001, as they consider that large amounts of risks are mainly from the primary production in the supply chains rather than the later stages of food processing ,