Kotsanopoulos and Arvanitoyannis (2017) reviewed the role of food safety and food quality standards in the food industry. This review will form the basis of this article.
Delivering safe, high quality feed requires process and procedural controls throughout the feed chain and mechanisms to certify such controls are effective. The public sector has played a key role in the development, implementation and enforcement of food and feed safety regulations, surveillance of contaminants, consumer education, training and research. While the private sector, i.e. trade associations or agro-enterprises implement quality management procedures to assess and manage food quality and safety elements in response to customer and regulatory requirements.
Quality standards are the policies and procedures in place in order to ensure that contracted product characteristics and production processes are consistently delivered. Standards are necessary to facilitate control, monitoring and auditing to ensure consistency and to provide a reference point to determine compliance has been achieved. Quality standards can vary based on the organisation, customer and regulatory requirements. Nevertheless, their overarching purpose is to identify and address such requirements.
The requirement of the product and its associated processes can be obtained from technical specifications, product standards, process standards, regulatory requirements and contractual agreements. Many organisations have developed their own standards for their quality management system, while others rely on public and private food safety and quality standards.
Legal standards typically relate to safety and are established by national governments. They are mandatory and represent minimum standards of quality and safety, i.e. they are authentic and do not contain dangerous contaminants.
Consumer standards relates to the information presented to the consumer, i.e. the description of the product must conform to a particular standard e.g. nutrition and health claims such as low fat.
Industry standards also known as commodity standards or standards of identity are set by an organised industry association. They outline a reliable identity for a particular product e.g. wheat conforms to a minimum standard established by the industry.
International standards set by an international body. For example, in the food and feed chain, the Codex Alimentarius Commission is the most widely recognised international body that sets food standards. Adoption of the Codex standards by national governments facilitates international trade.
International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)
ISO is a non-governmental organisation which aims to promote the development of harmonised standards to facilitate international trade. Implementation of ISO standards is voluntary. ISO 9001:2015, the International standard specifying requirements for quality management systems has been described as the most prominent approach to quality management systems.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the technical barriers to trade (TBT) is relevant to aspects of feed and food quality management. It promotes the use of standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that are based on work done by international standard setting bodies. In the TBT agreement, the term standard is defined as:
A document approved by a recognised body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for products or related processes and production methods, with which compliance is not mandatory
The 1994 SPS agreement of the WTO provides a framework for harmonising and resolving sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues. The SPS agreement covers measures intended to protect human or animal health arising from diseases carried by animals, plants, or products thereof; and from the risks of unsafe additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs; among other things. The SPS agreement encourages member states to consider international standards, guidelines and recommendations when establishing their national SPS measures. A country is not required to implement an international standard. However the must have scientific justification to establish or maintain a more stringent measure, if it will unfairly hinder international trade. Standards established by the Codex regarding food and feed substances have status under the SPS agreement.
The development and implementation of public and private food safety and quality standards across the globe have increased in response to rising customer/consumer expectations; the growing interest in food safety, legal and institutional requirements (e.g. due diligence); and increased efforts to achieve competitive advantage.
These third party quality and safety standards offer a framework which guides and supports feed and food company’s in developing their policies and procedures and implementing a quality management system that meets a high level of food safety and food law compliance; food quality and customer requirements; and the protection of people, animal and environmental welfare.
What we would like you to do
Please read the full article by Kotsanopoulos and Arvanitoyannis (2017).
The review describes the main food safety and quality standards used in Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Please share your thoughts on the review and quality management systems in the comments section below.