Do you trust the food you eat?Veronica Fuentes
Although healthy eating trends are growing and many are raising awareness about the content of processed foods, very few will question whether the ingredients on the labels are really the ones we find in our food.
The Horse Meat Scandal
We don’t think twice before taking a beef burger from the freezer in a supermarket. That’s why the test results from the Irish Food Authority made a big impact. Horse meat and pork were found in beef products. The European community lost confidence in the food industry and focused attention on food safety.
It turns out the supply chain has become much more complicated with globalization. Food producing plants get ingredients from all over the world; this multiplies the possibilities for committing fraud or food safety related crimes.
For example, in Italy, inferior olive oil has been passed off as extra virgin olive oil; in the United States, parmesan cheese has been found adulterated with cheaper products. Furthermore, there are cases where the consequences have been worse. In Spain, for instance, in the early 1980s, there were hundreds of deaths due to the consumption of contaminated cooking oil.
The supply chain has become much more complex in recent decades. According to an article in The Finantial Times, the average cod can travel up to 10,000 miles before reaching a diner’s plate. This multiplies the opportunities for a criminal to commit fraud.
This complexity present in food production and distribution requires the presence of rules to regulate these processes. In addition, the industry must look for ways to regain consumer confidence after such incidents as horse meat.
ISO 22000: The necessary tool
The ISO 22000 family of standards helps manufacturers ensure food safety and uses traceability to ensure the origin of their ingredients. Many small businesses do not have the capacity to act as “policemen” throughout their supply chain, so this standard provides them with an effective tool to deal with different aspects of food safety management.
ISO Focus asked the experts their perspective on the growing temptation of producers to cut costs. The pressure to produce increasingly affordable food has led them to reduce health and quality controls. So what do the experts think about how to deal with this and regain consumer confidence?
Certification bodies play a critical role in efforts to improve food safety. Food certification produces greater transparency and better standards, but is it an effective weapon against food fraud?
That is when the FSSC 22000 certification scheme appears, based on the ISO 22000 standard. This is a scheme that gives food industry companies a tool to produce safer food and regain consumer confidence. The FSSC 22000 certification is composed of three elements, the ISO 22000 standard, the industry-specific pre-requirements program and additional FSSC requirements.
This certification scheme is recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative, and is increasingly being required by governments around the world. This scheme, therefore, could be the necessary element to coordinate public and private efforts around food safety.
Want to know more about ISO/FSSC 22000?