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What are the current quality standards for the food industry?

19/05/2018 | Bart Bosch | General

FSSC 22000, BRC, IFS, … There are numerous quality standards and systems for food producers to guarantee the quality of food. None of these standards is static; they are regularly updated and experience further developments. It is therefore not always easy for companies in the food industry to select the appropriate quality system. We clearly list the most important criteria in this blog to make the proper choice.

The British retail chains were the first in developing a quality standard for their food producers. This standard was named BRC, which refers to the British Retail Consortium. French and German retailers were not too keen on also working under these British standards after which they joined forces to develop their own standards. If we compare both standards substantively, we determine that these standards mainly have the same bases. This food standard operates under the name IFS and is primarily used on the European mainland.

Overall quality standard food industry

Standards were also created independent of retail organisations: FSSC 22000 is an example. The latter is based on ISO 22000 but a few elements were lacking in order for it to be recognised by GFSI. The combination of ISO 22000 and the GMP standards together forms FSSC 22000.

The Global Food Safety Initiative is an organisation consisting of several stakeholders: they prepare conditions with which recognised standards have to comply under the conception that one certificate suffices. The entity in the possession of a certificate recognised by GFSI, for example IFS, usually does not need to attain an additional certificate for companies that recognise GFSI.

Which standards should you choose as a food company?

Having all of these standards in place, it is not evident for a food company to select the appropriate basic standard. We always advise to define which certificate offers the most added value for your specific customer portfolio. We notice, for example, that a retailer such as Carrefour has a preference for IFS, while the British Tesco obviously prefers BRC. Companies that are globally active rather work with FSSC 22000.

In addition to imposing a certain basic standard, producers, retailers and distributors may always add their own requirements. We have noticed that increasing attention is paid to new “quality themes” such as corporate social responsibility. Moreover, the existing standards are of course constantly in motion and it is of major importance to proactively follow-up on these evolutions.

Would you like to know more about the quality standards in the food industry? Feel free to contact us with all your questions.