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Wed 30 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Managing food safety

JohnsonDiversey Consulting regional director Abdul Rashid tackles ISO implementation.

JohnsonDiversey Consulting recently conducted an awareness seminar on ISO 22000:2005 in conjunction with the Food Control and Dubai Accreditation Departments of Dubai Municipality and the Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology.

Yaser Nazir, a senior consultant with JohnsonDiversey Consulting, took 150 participants through the implementation steps of the recently-introduced ISO standard.

In the next two months' columns I will summarise the salient discussion points for Caterer readers, starting with the outlet management's role in food safety systems.

International standards

As HACCP continues to evolve, advances in the quality management field have allowed the food industry to develop a complete food safety management system (FSMS), which has further reduced the risk of food safety incidents.

Different countries around the world have different standards. As a result, there was an international effort to harmonise the disparate standards into a single ISO standard.

ISO 22000 was published in 2005, and defines a state-of-the-art food safety management system. The standard has the following characteristics:

• It is utilisable by all organisations in the food chain

• It combines the recognised food safety system elements as defined by Codex

• It provides an auditable standard that could be used as part of third-party certification

• It ensures that the process used to control food safety is validated, verified, implemented, monitored and managed

• It focuses only on food safety

The working group that developed ISO 22000 intended that the standard would not replace ISO 9001. Instead, the food industry would use both standards: ISO 22000 to address food safety management and ISO 9001 to address quality management. Both of the standards are compatible and have similar structures.

ISO 22000 is written in an auditable form, so it can be used as a tool to develop audit plans for either internal or third-party audits, and the 22000 standard also incorporates the five preliminary steps and the seven principles of HACCP.

Management responsibility

ISO 22000 defines a management approach to food safety. Therefore, food safety is more than just a function of quality assurance and operations.

The production of safe food requires the active involvement of most of the business functions, including, engineering, purchasing, sales, and human resources.

ISO 22000 recognised this by requiring that top management must be committed and involved in the planning and production of safe food.

Management is then actively involved in food safety as it must establish a corporate food safety policy and lead the company to achieve the objectives.

The objectives should be specific, attainable, relevant, and time-framed - for example to make the existing food safety management system compliant to ISO 22000 by the end of the fourth quarter.

The policy and the objectives must then be communicated, implemented and maintained at all levels in the organisation.Then the restaurant's top management must conduct periodic management reviews of the food safety management system to assess the overall effectiveness of the FSMS.

This method provides a clear mechanism that allows everyone within the organisation to fully commit to the food safety issues that are the top priority of the outlet's management.

For more details on ISO standards and how to implement a systems approach to food safety, see next month's issue of Caterer Middle East.

The columnist Abdul Rashid is the regional director for the GCC, Middle East and Africa for JohnsonDiversey Consulting.

Quality + businessThe strength of ISO 22000 lies in its ability to link the quality management system to the business process. This is done by:

• Establishing a food safety policy with measurable objectives

• Increasing the management responsibilities for the food safety team leader

• Implementing a management review process of the food safety management system

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