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Food safety standards: ISO 22001, HACCP, GMP

by Renaud Anjoran

As one might expect, the food industry takes safety issues (i.e. not making consumers sick) very seriously. The main standards don’t focus on “quality” (i.e. making sure the taste is good) but on “safety”.

It seems like not a month goes by without a serious food scandal in China, so I thought it would be interesting to look at that industry.

For a food factory, there are 3 steps in a logical progress, from GMP to HACCP and finally to ISO 22001. I am going to introduce each one briefly in this article.

1. Good Manufacturing Practices

It is relatively easy to set up a GMP system. It mainly includes these three elements:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Facility hygiene
  • Premise hygiene

Most food factories apply GMPs, but seldom in a systematic way (with monitoring, followup on corrective actions, etc.). In China this is applied in very inconsistent ways.

(Note: for warehousing operations, GMP and ISO 9001 are usually sufficient. There is no real need for HACCP and ISO 2001, even though it is possible and easy since there are no critical control points.)

2 . Hazard analysis and critical control points

An HACCP program requires an analysis of all potential issues for each product. This might be easy for a factory that only produces a few products, all of which follow roughly the same process. But it is hard for companies such as supermarkets that deal with many product categories.

For each process, the company has to:

  • List the process steps
  • For each process step, list the potential physical, chemical, and biological hazards
  • Decide which ones are critical (those that have a high likelihood x severity score)
  • The non-critical hazards can simply be controlled by GMP (which are called “PRP” for “pre-requisite program” in ISO 22001)
  • The critical hazards have to be controlled in a measurable manner, with a target and tolerance(s). For example, keeping raw pork meat at –18 degrees can just be a GMP point, while the only critical point in the workflow is the last step —  cooking with a core temperature of 90 degrees (minimum 80 degrees) — because it is the one that kills the bacteria.

3. ISO 22001

This standard includes GMP, HACCP, along with some other requirements that are mostly similar to ISO 9001 (management review, internal audits…)

This is why most food factories that have implemented a HACCP system are also ISO 22001 certified.

Renaud Anjoran has been managing his quality assurance agency (Sofeast Ltd) since 2006. In addition, a passion for improving the way people work has pushed him to launch a consultancy to improve factories and a web application to manage the purchasing process. He writes advice for importers on

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