Understanding the New ISO 22000: 2018 Amendment on Climate Change

Considering climate change is now a key part of the ISO 22000:2018 food safety management systems standard! Recent amendments have been added to Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the standard to address this critical topic. In this article, we'll explore these changes and what they mean for your organisation. We'll also provide a link to the amendment and other helpful resources.

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ISO 22000:2018, an important standard for Food Safety Management Systems, has recently been amended to include considerations for climate change. This amendment, known as ISO 22000:2018/Amd 1:2024, introduces critical updates under Clauses 4.1 and 4.2, emphasising the need for organisations in the food chain to assess and address climate change impacts.

What are the Key Changes in the Amendment?

The importance of food safety remains paramount, and international standards are constantly evolving to address emerging challenges. One such challenge is the undeniable impact of climate change on global food systems. To ensure food safety in a changing environment, a recent amendment to ISO 22000: 2018 introduces new key changes in relation to climate change. Let’s delve into the key changes outlined in these amendments, focusing on how organisations can adapt and ensure continued compliance.

Download a copy of the amendment here

Clause 4.1: Understanding the Organisation and its Context

The amendment introduces a new requirement for organisations to assess whether climate change is a relevant issue. This involves analysing the potential impacts of climate change on food safety, the overall food safety management system, and the organisation’s ability to meet its food safety objectives considering climate change.

An organisation may, for example, identify climate change as an external issue that affects its operations or risk that requires planning and risk mitigation measures based on the risk level.

For example, regions like Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape, South Africa have experienced extreme weather patterns that some scientists attribute to climate change. Most recently, these regions have experienced highly destructive floods. Similarly, phenomena such as rising sea levels and prolonged droughts are often linked to climate change.

Therefore, the organisation needs to determine if climate change affects its operations, whether in the supply chain, suppliers (growers), distribution, or manufacturing or any of its activities.

Suppose climate change is found to be an issue. In that case, the organisation should plan for or implement appropriate risk mitigation measures that ensure that product safety is assured, and the overall food management system is not compromised.

If there is a possibility that there would be an impact, what emergency preparedness measures are in place?

Clause 4.2: Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Interested Parties

A note has been added to this clause, highlighting that relevant interested parties may have requirements related to climate change. This underscores the importance of considering stakeholders’ expectations and regulatory demands concerning climate action. The interested parties could be your customers, consumers, and even regulatory authorities through laws and regulations. Of course, other interested parties could set specific requirements.

These changes were prepared by the Technical Committee ISO/TC 34, Food Products, Subcommittee SC 17 Management Systems for food safety, and approved by the Technical Management Board Resolution 75/2023.

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Why is Climate Change an Issue in the Food Industry and Supply Chain

Impact on Crop Yields and Quality

Climate change significantly affects crop yields and quality. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and heat waves, can lead to reduced agricultural productivity. These conditions can also affect the nutritional quality of crops, posing a risk to food security and safety.

Disruption of Food Supply Chains

The food supply chain is highly sensitive to climate variability. Disruptions caused by extreme weather events can lead to supply shortages, increased prices, and logistical challenges. This not only impacts the availability of food but also its safety, as longer storage and transport times can increase the risk of contamination. A perfect example are rising sea levels which may delay shipments in some cases due to violent waves and perhaps ports closing due to the violent waves, and the question is what happens to the food that is awaiting shipment.

Increased Risk of Foodborne Diseases

Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns can create favourable conditions for the proliferation of foodborne pathogens. This increases the risk of foodborne illnesses, which can have severe public health implications. Ensuring food safety in the context of climate change requires robust monitoring and adaptive management strategies. Additionally, climate change could lead to high pest activity in some regions and other harmful organisms that could destroy crops.

There could also be situations where specific pathogens become more prominent because favourable weather patterns, previously uncommon in the region, create an ideal environment for their spread.

Importance and Benefits of Addressing Climate Change in Food Safety Management

Ensuring Compliance with Regulatory Requirements

As climate change becomes a more prominent issue, regulatory bodies are increasingly incorporating climate-related requirements into food safety standards. Organisations must stay compliant with these evolving regulations to avoid penalties or sanctions and maintain their market access.

Enhancing Organisational Resilience

integrating climate change considerations into food safety management systems, ensure that organisations enhance their resilience to climate-related disruptions. This proactive approach helps in mitigating risks, ensuring continuity of operations, and protecting public health.

Meeting Stakeholder Expectations

Consumers, retailers, investors, and other stakeholders are becoming more aware of the impacts of climate change on food safety. Addressing these concerns not only helps in building trust and credibility but also aligns with the broader goals of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Contributing to Global Climate Action

The food industry plays a crucial role in global climate action. By adopting climate-resilient practices, organisations contribute to the broader efforts of mitigating climate change impacts. This, in turn, supports the achievement of international climate goals and promotes a sustainable future.

Conclusion

The amendment to ISO 22000:2018 underscores the critical need for the food industry to address climate change. understanding and integrating climate-related risks into food safety management systems, organisations ensure compliance, enhance resilience, meet stakeholder expectations, and contribute to global climate action. This proactive approach is essential for safeguarding food safety in an era of unprecedented climate challenges.

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