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An extended transition period for ISO 22000

Feb. 9 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic and its corresponding lockdowns have had multiple impacts on the food industry, including delayed deadlines for management systems updates. Among these is ISO 22000:2018, a food safety management system (FSMS) that enables food companies to identify and control safety hazards. Originally intended to come into force in June, the transition has been postponed until December 31, 2021.

Food producers, distributors and companies now have a six-month grace period in which to prepare for the updated requirements. In the context of Covid-19 – where sanitary measures have become ever stricter – completing this transition is particularly important for businesses looking to reassure their customers.

Exploring new requirements and changes

The updated version of ISO 22000 leans more heavily on business management concepts to ensure that the standard is fully integrated into a company’s overall business processes. It is built around ISO’s high-level structure, enabling it to be integrated with other management system standards.

Businesses will need to account for the context of their organizations, identifying the internal and external factors that affect them (e.g., company culture, customer consumption patterns, changing technologies). The updated standard also requires top management to be held accountable for an FSMS’ effectiveness, providing the support and resources needed to achieve continual improvement.

Risk is another key area being addressed by ISO 22000. Organizations will be required to identify the risks that might affect the FSMS’ performance, and take action to minimize them. Hazard control plans will need to account for Operational Prerequisite Programs (OPRP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), requiring businesses to categorize risks and establish controls. Additional steps will be mandatory for conducting hazard identification, including gathering information on the source of products, end products, and distribution and delivery methods.

The updated standard also emphasizes the need to regularly evaluate the FSMS, in addition to the usual monitoring, measuring and analyzing. Internal and external auditors will need to go beyond checking that FSMS processes are clearly defined and effective, determining if they yield strong results. Audit results will need to be reported to relevant management and food safety teams, and all information must be documented to prove the implementation and efficacy of the FSMS.

Supporting clients through the transition

In October 2019, Bureau Veritas received accreditation from UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) to support clients’ transitions to ISO 22000:2018. Thanks to this, our auditors can perform the necessary audits to determine clients’ readiness to transition and compliance with the updated standard.

Given the context, Bureau Veritas is aiming to provide flexible transition options for clients around the world. Our experts can conduct transition audits during scheduled surveillance audits or recertification audits. While this increases the time required to perform the audit, clients can undergo both audits at once, avoiding multiple visits from auditors. Under certain circumstances, clients can also have audits performed remotely, rather than requiring an onsite auditor.

Bureau Veritas has also added a new module to its e-learning offering that provides detailed information about the latest updates to the standard. Recommended for anyone planning, implementing, maintaining or auditing an FSMS, the course clarifies all requirements for achieving certification against ISO 22000:2018. 
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