Protecting the global food supply chain with standards

Building and maintaining a transparent supply chain is necessary to maintain the integrity of products, ensuring businesses can minimize and efficiently manage potential risks such as contamination, mislabelling or recalls.

End-to-end visibility is vital for organizational control, improved production efficiency, reduced costs and better sustainability. It’s also central to building reputational trust. Despite all this, the fragmented nature of modern supply chains often makes this challenging.

A lack of traceability in the food supply chain causes gaps in safety that can expose your business, and consumers, to unnecessary risk. The consequences can be severe: an outbreak of accidental foodborne illness can mean significant financial losses, permanent reputation damage and even business failure.

But more than this, unsafe food threatens human health and life. An estimated 600 million people in the world fall ill every year after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die as a result. As networks continue to expand and extend across international borders, the human and economic cost of a fragile food supply chain simply cannot be ignored.

Irrespective of their size or complexity, every organization in the food chain has a responsibility to strengthen their traceability systems and deliver safe products to consumers. International standards can help reduce exposure to risk and improve performance, ensuring compliance to guidelines and regulations across the whole chain.

Of the hundreds of food-related ISO standards, the ISO 22000 series deals directly with food safety in the supply chain. It combines communication, system management and hazard control to help remove potential weak links in the chain.

Through the development of an effective food safety management system (FSMS) that promotes harmonized working procedures, food safety is improved, communications are streamlined and the risk of any errors or misunderstanding is reduced. Certification also demonstrates compliance, increasing customer and stakeholder confidence in your organization’s ability to supply safe products consistently.

What’s more, ISO 22000 is closely aligned with the requirements of ISO 9001 for quality management. Integrating the two offers additional benefit, introducing a culture of continual improvement.

Beyond this, ISO 22003 defines the rules applicable for FSMS audit and certification. Developed for use by the certification bodies who audit food safety management systems, its use further ensures that the food consumers enjoy is safe.

Meanwhile, ISO 22005 establishes principles and requirements for the design and implementation of a food traceability system. This helps maintain visibility during food manufacturing, processing, distribution and handling–from production to consumption. Such a system also aids product recall or withdrawal processes.

Food safety hazards are present at every stage of the food production chain, which makes rigorous control efforts all the more important. Outside of the ISO 22000 series, companies should look to ISO 28000, which specifies the requirements for a security management system to ensure safety across the chain. You can use ISO 28000 to build pre-planned risk responses to help mitigate the impact of certain scenarios should they arise improving the resilience of your supply chain.   

To further boost food security and defend your products from specific and deliberate attacks such as extortion, cybercrime and economically motivated adulteration, your business can use PAS 96. This specification provides practical guidance on how to avoid and mitigate threats using a risk management methodology known as Threat Assessment Critical Control Points (TACCP). It further demonstrates a solid commitment to food safety, strengthening your brand’s integrity and increasing customer loyalty.

Safety and security will always be of utmost importance in global food supply, and every party has its own responsibilities. As supply chains increase in complexity and size, a standards-based approach is the best way to intelligently manage and improve traceability, building a protected network of confidence and trust.

Bullet point summary

  • As globalization increases, so does the complexity of the food supply chain. Risks are growing and maintaining oversight is challenging, but transparency is essential to meet consumer and regulatory demands for safety and quality.
  • Unsafe food results in high financial costs and reputational damage. It also threatens human health and life: 600 million people in the world fall ill every year after eating contaminated food and 420,000 die as a result.
  • Everybody along the chain is responsible for delivering safe products to consumers. International standards bring a common language and understanding of how food safety should be managed.
  • The ISO 22000 series deals directly with food safety in the supply chain. ISO 22000 provides businesses with a framework for a food safety management system to ensure there are no weak links in the chain.
  • This standard is closely aligned with the requirements of ISO 9001 for quality management.
  • ISO 22003 defines rules for FSMS audit and certification, helping organizations to identify and control food safety standards.
  • ISO 22005 establishes requirements for a robust food traceability system, ensuring food is traced and tracked throughout the chain to safeguard public health.
  • In addition, ISO 28000 specifies the requirements for a security management system to improve the resilience of your supply chain and protect it from fraudulent activity.
  • You could also use PAS 96 to boost food security, avoiding and mitigating threats with established procedures for risk management.