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Choosing the Right Food Safety Certification

Are you the decision maker about your company’s food safety program—but not sure where to start? Do you know how many different food safety standards are out there, or which standard is right for your company? What differences do they have and what does it take to design and implement systems to meet the requirements of these standards? What challenges do you face when you implement a food safety standard in a paperboard packaging manufacturing environment?

Every food safety standard consists of three major elements: the food safety management system, good manufacturing practices, and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP). The common food safety standards in paperboard packaging companies—SQF, FSSC 22000, ISO 22000, BRC, IFS, and AIB—all include these elements.

When it comes to food safety standards, it is important to know if the standard you choose is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which is a benchmark for food safety systems that ensures confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. It is important to take into account GFSI when choosing food safety standards; the program strongly influences the market because major CPG retailers require food safety standards benchmarked by the program. Among the standards mentioned above, SQF, FSSC 22000, BRC, and IFS are recognized by GFSI.

The other factor to consider when you are selecting a food safety standard is the compatibility of the standard with your operations, as well as with other systems that you already have implemented or may implement in the future. These include, but are not limited, to your quality, environmental, sustainability, and safety systems, as well as specific requirements you may have from your customers. Even though the requirements of these standards may seem similar, each is structured differently from the others. Selecting a food safety standard that is similar in structure to your other systems could save your company significant resources.

For instance, if you are already an ISO-certified company, FSSC 22000 is a smart choice for your food safety program because FSSC 22000 is similar in structure to ISO 9001. In this case, using FSSC 22000 can save you time during the development and implementation phase, in the audit process, and during ongoing maintenance of your system.

Of course, customer demand is the most important factor. If your customer requires you to be in compliance with a specific standard, then that is the standard you want to implement.

From a technical perspective, several more differences exist among these standards that you need to understand when you are considering your food safety program. The table below gives you an overview of these differences.

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Simon Jalali is the quality manager at American Carton Company. Jalali can be reached at (817) 473-2992 or sjalali@americancarton.com.

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