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Quality Digest


New ISO Standard to Facilitate Traceability in Food Supply Chains

Published: Monday, July 23, 2007 - 22:00

(ISO: Geneva) -- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently took another step toward ensuring the safety of food products for consumers with its ISO 22005 standard on traceability in the feed and food chain, the latest addition to the ISO 22000 series on food-management systems.

ISO 22005, “Traceability in the feed and food chain—General principles and basic requirements for system design and implementation,” establishes the principles and requirements for the design and implementation of a feed and food traceability system. This standard will allow organizations operating at any step of the food chain to:
  • Trace the flow of materials (feed, food, their ingredients, and packaging)
  • Identify necessary documentation and tracking for each stage of production
  • Ensure adequate coordination between the different actors involved
  • Require that each party be informed of at least his direct suppliers and clients, and more

Moreover, a traceability system can improve the appropriate use and reliability of information, effectiveness, and productivity of the organization.

In recent years, cases of food poisoning and other outbreaks, such as mad cow disease, have illustrated the need for food-related standards that protect public health and reduce the negative social and economic effects of such crises.

Because food-safety hazards can enter the food chain at any stage, adequate control and communication throughout the process is essential. One weak link in the supply chain can result in unsafe food, a serious danger to consumers with costly repercussions for suppliers.

A traceability system allows an organization to document and/or locate a product through the stages and operations involved in the manufacture, processing, distribution and handling of feed and food, from primary production to consumption. It can therefore facilitate the identification of the cause for nonconformity with a product(s), and the ability to withdraw and/or recall these if necessary.

Apart from public-health considerations, the new standard will also have other social and economic advantages. In the food industry, a diversity of retail and private quality schemes generate uneven levels of safety, confusion over requirements, and increased cost and complication for suppliers obliged to conform to multiple programs. ISO 22005 offers a unique solution for good practice on a worldwide basis and thus contributes to lowering trade barriers.

“With ISO 22005, ISO contributes once more to safeguarding public health and encouraging the economic development of the global food industry in a manner that respects societal needs for safety,” says ISO secretary-general Alan Bryden. “In this way, ISO 22005 reflects the essence of the upcoming World Standards Day on Oct. 14, whose 2007 theme is ‘Standards and the Citizen: Contributing to Society.’”

ISO 22005:2007 uses the same definition of traceability as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and provides a complement for organizations implementing the ISO 22000 standard. ISO 22000:2005, gives the basic requirements for a food-safety management system to ensure safe food supply chains. ISO 22000 incorporates the principles of the CAC’s “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point” system for food hygiene.

For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/en/commcentre/pressreleases/2007/Ref1063.html.


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