New Industry Standard Governs Safe Food From the Farm

A new Technical Specification has been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for detecting, managing, and controlling food safety hazards, beginning with the hygienic environment on the farm.  ISO/TS 22002-3:2011, Prerequisite Programs on Safe Food—Farming Part 3, provides specific requirements that guide the design, implementation and documentation of food safety programs on farms. This is the third in a series from ISO that brings standardization to food safety management with its focal point on farming systems because the Technical Committee (TC) gave early recognition to farms as the first link in most food supply chains.  

Food safety has been the subject of the TC since September 2005 when the original ISO 22000 was issued.  In fact, ISO 22000 was the advent of a global option that sought to bring a safety protocol to the food supply chain.  This original standard identified basic requirements to facilitate food safety within the supply chain.  It included regulatory compliance, customer requirements, food safety policy, communicating safety issues, and certification of the farm to the standard’s requirements.  The food safety prerequisite programs (PRPs) in ISO 22000 considered basic circumstances, protocols, and requirements that ensure hygiene throughout the food chain during production, handling, providing, and preparing food for human consumption.

Since then, this same TC has developed several ISO standards in food safety, including traceability in the feed and food chain (ISO 22005), requirements for the audit and certification of PRPs (ISO 22003), safety in food manufacturing (ISO 22002-1, Part 1), and general requirements for any supplier in the food chain (ISO 22000).

The latest food safety standard is ISO 2202-3, which was published in December 2011.  Its focal point is the PRP in food farming and covers a broad spectrum of operations.  Generally, the standard provides state-of-the-art requirements to control food hazards in the supply chain and to guide farmers in implementing best practices that create and preserve a hygienic environment on their farm.  In this way, farmers are able to participate cohesively and collectively in assuring food safety along the supply chain.  Further, the technical requirements provided in the standard’s guidance can be incorporated into individual, group, or large farm operations, regardless of their simplicity or complexity.  

Specifically, the programs described in the standard’s requirements and guidance materials apply to crop farming (including fruit and vegetable orchids), live animals (beef, poultry, pork, and fish), and produce from animals (milk, eggs, etc.).  Most farm operations are included in the standard, such as cleaning, packing, processing, feeding, and transportation within the farm. Also, specific examples of PRPs in farming operations are provided, although these are for guidance only because these operations are typically diverse according to size, type of products, production methods, geographical location, biological environment, and the statutory and regulatory legal requirements that govern their overall operation and production.  For this reason, the PRPs will differ among organizations.

ISO 22002-3 was developed by ISO Technical Committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 17 (TC34/SC17), Management systems for food safety and working group WG 2, Farming.  Thirty-three (33) countries participated in the development of ISO 22002-3, including the U.S. through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  Chairman for ISO’s technical committee was Jacob Faergemand from Denmark.  Several certification bodies participated in liaison with this standard, including GS1, FoodDrinkEurope (CIAA), European Modern Restaurant Association (EMRA), and the CAC (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.).  ISO 22002-3 is available from ISO at www.iso.org. 


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