15 Steps on How to Get FSSC 22000 Certification and Grow Your Business

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Below are a series of steps one would need to follow when intending to Implement and achieve FSSC 22000 Version 5.1 certification.  Please read through the steps to fully understand how one can implement FSSC 22000 V5.1

Step 1: Product Compliance

Ensure that your product complies with food safety, food quality and regulations. It is crucial to observe the laws of the country where the product is manufactured and the intended destination.

Let’s make an example; assuming you intend selling dried fruits; you would consider all food safety risks such as pesticide residues, heavy metals, mycotoxins, etc. Under food quality, you would consider both the raw fruit and final product — for example, the sugar content, size, colour and taste.

Under regulatory requirements, you will need to observe all relevant laws. These could include, as an example, laws guiding the processing of the product, additives, or labelling. A practical example would be the declaration of allergens on labels.

Step 2: Food Premises and Process Compliance

All food premises and processes need to comply with Government Food Laws and Regulations. This is to ensure all food, including beverages, is safe for human consumption and will not cause any harm to consumers.

  • Find out which Food Laws and Regulations apply to your business.
  • Obtain copies of all the Food Laws and Regulations.
  • Ensure you read, understand and implement the requirements of each Food Law and Regulation.

Seek professional help if you are not sure where to begin or how to do the above.

Step 3: Comply with Customer Requirements

Before you jump in and start your FSSC 22000 certification process, make sure you understand and comply with your customers’ requirements first.

  • Have you received a request or notification from your customers requiring recognised Food certification?
  • Make a list of all your customer’s requirements.
  • Ensure you comply with these requirements.
  • Ask for clarity should these requirements be unclear to you.
  • Lastly, ensure you keep your customers regularly updated on your progress.

Step 4: Comply with Other Relevant Standards

Except for Food Safety Laws and Regulations, your organisation may need to comply with other relevant standards.

  • Find out which Food Safety Standards apply to your business, for example, potable water standard, microbiological standards, etc.
  • Obtain copies of all the Food Safety Standards.
  • Ensure you read, understand and implement the requirements of each Food Safety Standards.

Seek professional help if you are not sure where to begin or how to do the above.

Step 5: Food Safety Training is Essential

Your staff will need Food Safety training. Food Safety training comes in all shapes and sizes. Ranging from basic food safety training for all food handlers to more advanced courses for supervisors, managers, HACCP teams, QA and QC managers and top management.

  • Ensure you understand the training requirements of FSSC 22000
  • Make a list of all employees and the training need requirements.
  • Decide how and who will provide the training course.
  • Understand when to do internal training and when it’s best to use experienced food safety training providers.

Step 6: Understand What FSSC 22000 Is

The Foundation Food Safety System Certification 22000 offers a complete certification Scheme for the auditing and certification of Food Safety and Quality Management Systems.

The Scheme uses international and independent standards such as ISO 22000, ISO 9001, ISO/TS 22003 and technical specifications for sector-specific Prerequisite Programs (PRPs), such as ISO/TS 22002-1 for the food industry.

FSSC 22000 is made up of:

  • ISO 22000: 2018,
  • ISO Technical Standard depending on the sector, and
  • FSSC 22000 Additional requirements.

The FSSC 22000 System was designed to provide companies in the food industry with an ISO-based certification of the food safety management system, which is also recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Recognition by GFSI provides worldwide recognition and acceptance by food manufacturers, customers and retailers.

Step 7: Comply with the ISO 22000: 2018 Standard

ISO 22000 was created to ensure that all food safety regulations are aligned, prevent food safety outbreaks, and emphasise the importance of management systems in managing food safety.

The original standard was published in ISO 22000, and it became known as ISO 22000: 2005, which has since been updated to ISO 22000: 2018 and published in June 2019.

The new standard adopted a high-level structure which is aligned to ISO 9001. The standard has ten clauses in total. It adopts a PDCA throughout the standard and focuses on a risk-based approach.

ISO 22000: 2018 places emphasis on management systems, which include policies and procedures. The standard references a list of prerequisite programmes (PRPs) that must be implemented but does not outline how these PRPs should be implemented. To do this, one would use technical standards or other GMP standards.

Step 8: Select and Comply with the Relevant Technical Standard

FSSC 22000 uses the technical standards below in conjunction with ISO 22000: 2018 and the additional requirements. It is crucial to determine the technical standard that is relevant to your organisation. Below is the list of ISO Technical standards:

  • ISO/TS 22002-1:2009, Food manufacturing
  • ISO/TS 22002-2:2013, Catering
  • ISO/TS 22002-3:2011, Farming
  • ISO/TS 22002-4:2013, Food packaging manufacturing
  • ISO/TS 22002-6:2016, Feed and animal food production
  • PAS 221:2013, Retail/supermarkets
  • NEN/NTA 8059:2016, Transport and storage (ISO 22002-5 on Oct 19).

Step 9: Complying With Additional Requirements

After determining the technical standard suitable to your company, you will also need to comply with the additional FSSC 22000 requirements to attain the FSSC 22000 Certification.

The additional FSSC 22000 V5.1 requirements are listed below:

2.5.1 Management of Services and Purchased Materials

2.5.2 Product Labelling

2.5.3 Food Defence

2.5.4 Food Fraud Mitigation

2.5.5. Logo Use

2.5.6. Management of Allergens

2.5.7. Environmental Monitoring

2.5.8. Formulation of Products

2.5.9. Transport and Delivery

2.5.10. Storage and Warehousing

2.5.11. Hazard Control and Measures for Prevention of Cross-contamination

2.5.12. PRP Verification

2.5.13. Product Development

2.5.14. Health Status

2.5.15. Requirements for Organisations with Multisite certification

Step 10: Conduct a GAP Audit

GAP audits are conducted to determine the gaps in your Food Safety Management System in preparation for the actual certification audit. It assists with identifying areas that would need to be addressed before the audit to ensure a successful audit.

A comprehensive report with recommendations, findings and concerns is compiled. The auditing style follows that of the actual certification audit except that the auditor includes guidance in the report.

A GAP audit has tremendous value. It makes the integration and transition from one system to another a lot easier, saves time and is more cost-effective.

Step 11: Selecting a Certification Body

After implementing the above Standards and complying with customer requirements and South African laws and Standards, the organisation can then start applying for an audit. An organisation will need to contact certification bodies that are accredited to conduct FSSC 22000 certification.

The following FSSC 22000 Certification bodies are present in South Africa:

  • BSI Group
  • NSF
  • Intertek
  • SGS
  • QsCert
  • SABS
  • Bureau Veritas
  • SAACB
  • TUV-SUD
  • ISO-Certification

There are many more that may not have been listed above.

Step 12: Understand the FSSC Certification Audit Process

It is critical to comply with all certification requirements before an organisation apply for FSSC 22000 certification.

The steps below explain the FSSC 22000 certification process:

Initial Certification Audit

For the initial certification audit, the applicant organisation shall book a date that should be mutually convenient with the certification body.
The organisation shall ensure it has all the required documents, has sufficient staff members, and all operations and processes to be audited in full operation on the audit day.

The two Stages for the FSSC 22000 Audit

The initial auditing for certification is always carried out at the applicant organisation’s production site and is conducted in two separate stages: stage 1 and stage 2 audit.

The date of stage 1 and stage 2 audit should be mutually convenient for both the Certification Body and applicant organisation.

Stage 1

The Stage 1 audit verifies that the system has been designed and developed following the FSSC 22000 Standard requirements, the organisation’s own internal documents and the country’s laws and regulations.

It is required that the organisation should have at least six months’ worth of verifiable records and must be in operation when the audit takes place.

This audit’s main objective is to assess the applicant organisation’s preparedness to proceed to the stage 2 audit.

The auditor will scheme through documentation and visit the site where processes take place. The stage 1 audit will not include audit findings but only “areas of concern”, which shall be categorised as Major or Minor areas of concern. The applicant has up to 6 months to fix these areas of concern.

Stage 2

As per FSSC 22000 Scheme “, the Stage 2 audit substantiates top management’s claim by auditing the implementation of the food safety management system.

The activities subject to the proposed certification scopes shall be assessed during the initial certification audit. The site must be in full operation when the audit takes place.

This audit must take place within six months of the initial stage 1 audit, and the applicant will be issued with either Minor, Major or Critical findings.

In the case of Major and Critical findings, the certificate will not be issued until these are closed off.

A critical finding means an immediate fail and the audit can, therefore, not proceed. If it does move, it becomes a GAP Assessment.

Step 13: Certificate Issue

Provided that all findings have been closed off to the auditor’s satisfaction, the Certification Body shall issue a certificate. This certificate essentially gives assurance that all the requirements of the standard have been met.

It must be issued within 30 days once the audit outcome has been endorsed. The certificate expires three years after the initial certification decision, but there will be annual surveillance audits.

Step 14: Surveillance Audits

After the certification is issued, there shall be annual surveillance audits within the three-year cycle of which at least one must be unannounced.

These surveillance audits will still be full (comprehensive) and are not necessarily different from the other audits. At the end of the audit cycle, the organisation will need to then apply for recertification.

Step 15: Recertification Requirements

The FSSC 22000 recertification audit is conducted every three years to renew the current certification. It usually coincides with a newer version and is a full audit.

FSSC 22000 recertification is done for the renewal of the FSMS certificate. It encourages ongoing compliance and demonstrates the commitment of the company to maintaining competency.

Conclusion

The implementation of a Food Safety Management System can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are not sure where to start. We recommend you follow these 15 steps and get some professional help if you want to speed up the process and get the ball rolling.

ASC Consultants are food industry experts and specialise in Food Safety Management Systems (like FSSC 22000)  implementation, consulting, auditing and training.

We understand the needs of our clients and always provide cost-effective, efficient solutions.


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