Implementing food safety management systems in small and medium enterprises

After the successful GFSI Focus day in Tokyo last Tuesday, yesterday I attended the LRQA Food Forum organised by LRQA Japan. Around 70 delegates from the food sector attended. It was a very informative and interactive meeting. Speakers at the event include Mr. Yukawa of Japan Food Research Laboratories, Mr Nobutake Uchibori from the Japanese Consumer’s Cooperative Union and Mr. Onishi, Mr Uchibori from the JCCU as well as The Japan FSMS Assessment and Registration Body. I was very pleased to be asked to deliver a presentation on the international developments of audits and certification in the food supply chain, like FSSC 22000 and the developments of ISO standards for food safety management.

A key topic, which attracted many questions, was how small and medium companies are able to implement food safety management systems based on international standards and certification schemes like FSSC 22000. Although it might be a challenge for small and medium companies to achieve this, it is clear that they also need to ensure the food they produce is safe. And when those companies want to deliver to supermarkets and other food manufacturers a certified food safety management system is often required or provides confidence to the clients. There are a number of tools for small and medium companies. First there is the Global Markets project from GFSI. It provides a 3 step approach to enable a food company to develop their system from a number of minimum food safety requirements to the GFSI certification level. Organisations like Walmart, Metro, Coca Cola and McDonald’s are supporting this programme. More information can be found on www.mygfsi.com. Another supportive initiative comes from ISO. The ISO committee responsible for Food Safety Management standards will publish in the coming months a handbook called “How to use ISO 22000”. It provides practical explanation on the interpretation of the ISO 22000 requirements and gives a lot of examples.

This event again demonstrated that Japan is very active and committed in the further improvement of food safety in the food supply chain. Coming Saturday I will fly to Mexico City to attend another Food Forum organised by LRQA Mexico. I understand around 300 delegates will attend and will inform you on this event next week.