In a country where quality and safety aspects are only talked about in seminars and conference rooms, the availability of private options" for highlighting the credibility of an industry, especially in the food sector, is most welcome. Though Ministry of Health through its PFA Regulations is supposed to be doing the safety monitoring of products in the market as well as in restaurants, the ground reality tells a different story with hardly any prosecutions of violators and food criminals who are involved in nation wide adulteration of every conceivable food in the market. The ISO series of standards for food industry management in sync with HACCP programs, voluntarily adopted by some enlightened industrial players provide a strong platform for establishing their credibility before the public.
"The quality management standard ISO 9001 was used in the development of ISO 22000. Both are standards based on a management systems approach, and they share many requirements. The key difference is ISO 9001 is a quality management system with an emphasis on achieving product quality and customer satisfaction, while ISO 22000 is a food safety management system emphasizing safe product. Implementing an ISO 22000 program can have great benefits to a producer. An effective, documented food safety management system provides an internationally recognized management system that underscores quality management and ensures food safety. ISO 22000 certification gives companies a respected and credible way to let customers know food safety is a priority. Basing a company's food safety management system on ISO 22000 offers the best of both worlds—a management system approach combined with the best food safety practices. As stated earlier, there are many existing food safety standards, but they vary widely in content, levels and evaluation. To sell in a global food market, an internationally consistent standard is a benefit to everyone.
ISO 22000 applies to any organization involved in the food supply chain, including companies handling growing or raising food, transporting, processing, packaging, serving, supplying food ingredients or selling food. Each step in the supply chain is critical to the safety of the end product. The ISO 22000 standard clarifies requirements and standards of food safety across national borders and throughout the supply chain. There are several requirements that companies must meet. ISO 22000 requires the design and documentation of a food safety management system (FSMS). The standard contains the specific requirements to be addressed by the FSMS. These requirements include a food safety policy, setting quality objectives, planning and documenting the food safety system, maintaining quality records, communication procedures, emergency plan, following HACCP principles, traceability, corrective action, procedure for withdrawal of product, measurement and monitoring devices, internal audits and continual improvements".
Introduction of SAP management system raises the bar further and any responsible industry meaning seriously to better the monitoring of the production process from centralized positions, have better control of the quality of products, more financial control though real time market information must go for this innovative program. Of course in a country like India there is lot of scope for maneuvering, manipulation and corruption of the system depending on the integrity of the private agencies licensed to administer the certification process and periodic auditing. Still these private certifiers offer the best hope for the consumers both in domestic as well as in exporting countries to have confidence in food security credentials of the industry.