Well, I love to talk about food and standards at this time of year, so I found myself wondering about organic food and that standards that ensure compliance. Are you thinking about having an organic Thanksgiving? You have a number of layers of standardization and regulation to depend on in order to make it so!
Firstly, the organic movement was a grass-roots (pardon the pun) effort, so early “standards” come from specific jurisdictions and common-interest groups. As larger food producers got interested in the concept, more formalized standards-making has occurred.
There are two main sources of this standardization effort — the business itself (through trade associations) and government regulation. For the first, you’ll find the current development of “harmonized standards” happening in such groups as United Fresh (organic produce standards) and IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements). These organizations support their standards development by certification.
However with the proliferation of “organic” products, regulatory agencies around the world have moved to set regional standards for such foodstuffs. You’ll find extensive legislation and corresponding regulation in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and elsewhere. This may be from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the NOP (National Organic Program) requirements. Or the EU’s Commission Regulation 889/2008 for the production and labeling of organic products in support of EU laws.
In all cases certification is a keystone for the assurance of compliance to these standards. This type of certification may be essential for export to various markets across the globe. And it’s in the certification process where ISO standards are becoming more frequently referenced. As we noted in last Thanksgiving’s post, the ISO 22000 series is the basis for food production. But when it comes to certification, the use of ISO/IEC 17065 comes into play, providing the requirements for auditing bodies that offer certification services.
For this type of standardization, trade associations will usually continue to hold and update documents until there’s a strong business case for moving into a more traditional standards-developing process. Some things that could move standards for organic foodstuffs into the ISO process, for example, might be the need for one standard internationally to harmonize market requirements. Or there might be a need to reduce the costs of having a number of forums for holding these standards, thus making a consolidated document in the purview of one organization beneficial.
Meantime, when you do think of standards, think of Document Center Inc. We’re here to help you find your way through the web of compliance information that affects your business! Make us your Standards Experts and have a very happy and bountiful Thanksgiving!