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Thomas R. Cutler


ISO 22000—Standards Without Profitability Are Doomed

Published: Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 07:21

Story update 6/03/2011: The first two paragraphs following the subhead "ISO 22000 users" were changed.  

Regulatory and standards compliance is a requirement that meets with regular resistance from CFOs and CEOs who must justify the expense. Brand protection from recalls and costly litigation is essential; ultimately avoiding catastrophic business outcomes proves less of a driver for actionable traceability than seeking enhanced profitability.

The paradigm has shifted from traceability as a necessary evil to a quantifiable lean-enhanced profitability process.

With food safety at the highest levels of concern by the average customer, the ISO 22000 (and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 220) standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization, complying with food safety regulations has never been more important than it is today. Communication in 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 interactive communication is the first step in the ISO 22000 international standard, which specifies the requirements for a food safety management system includes system management and utilizes hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles.

HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. HACCP is used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards so that key actions can be taken at critical control points to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazards being realized. The system is used at all stages of food production and preparation processes, including packaging and distribution. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) use mandatory juice, seafood, meat, and poultry HACCP programs as an effective approach to protecting public health. Meat and poultry HACCP systems are regulated by the USDA, while seafood and juice are regulated by the FDA. The use of HACCP is currently voluntary in other food industries.

Quality assurance professionals understand the importance of planned and systematic production processes that provide confidence in a product's suitability for its intended purpose. The set of activities intended to ensure that products (goods and/or services) satisfy customer requirements in a systematic, reliable fashion cannot absolutely guarantee the production of quality products, which is unfortunate, but it does make the intended outcome more likely. The challenge is that the technology selection process to support these standards is rarely made by a quality assurance (QA) professional. While a decision-influencer in such technology solutions, the QA or quality control manager must find a way to justify the expense and demonstrate profitability, not merely brand protection and catastrophe avoidance.

ISO 22000 users

ISO 22000 is written as a food safety management standard that may be used by any organization involved in the food chain. Businesses of any size or type may utilize the ISO 22000 standard to help ensure the safety of its food or food related products.

According to ISO “ISO 22000 may apply to all types of organizations within the food chain ranging from feed producers, primary producers through food manufacturers, transport and storage operators and subcontractors to retail and food service outlets—together with inter-related organizations such as producers of equipment, packaging material, cleaning agents, additives and ingredients.” In short, ISO 22000 covers the food supply chain from farm to fork and everything in between.

While there’s efficacy in the standard, persuading the key financial decision-makers to implement these technology tools continues to meet with resistance. There are many software solutions for traceability, some installed, others offered as software as a service (SaaS, which require less up-front capitalization and therefore are often better received). The greatest limitation for these traceability technologies is that few of them use the collected traceability data to examine and derive increased profitability throughout the supply chain. There are exceptions.

“Most people equate traceability with material movement—that’s a last-century concept," says Gary Nowacki, president of TraceGains, a brand protection and promotion solutions provider. "You also have to collect all the surrounding information, and then analyze that information to make good business decisions."

Traceability can no longer remain an insurance policy that only pays off when something goes wrong, Nowacki explains. Payoff typically in that case is usually only compliance with the Food Bioterrorism Act. By monitoring their supply chain, companies avoid recalls, which has little to do with traceability but everything to do with profitability and brand protection. The Reasons for ISO 22000

“While the media is quick to report the latest lysteria contamination, or salmonella outbreak, and how a company was lax it meeting a standard, the thin margins of these organizations must ensure that beyond simply reacting to the Food Bioterrorism Act, HACCP requirements, GAP/GMP best practices, or the ISO 22000 standard," Nowacki adds. "The vast data collected by an advanced traceability solution informs better, leaner, and more profitability throughout the supply chain while improving product safety and quality.”



About The Author

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

Thomas R. Cutler

Thomas R. Cutler is the President and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., celebrating its 20th year. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 7000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 1000 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com and followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler.