ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Strengthening Food Safety Through Standards and Conformity Assessment


New York, Dec 13, 2007

In an effort to build consumer confidence in the quality and safety of food and pharmaceutical products, officials signed a pact on December 11, 2007, that gives the United States government a stronger role in screening imports from China.

Under the terms of the agreement, companies that export certain foods and medicines to the U.S. must register with China’s food and drug agencies and agree to annual inspections. China has also vowed to implement new certification and testing processes to ensure that shipments meet U.S. standards.

The U.S. government will maintain an online list of registered Chinese exporters, which can be used to verify that specific product shipments have been sent from registered companies.

The U.S. food safety system is based on strong, flexible, and science-based federal and state laws and private-sector voluntary consensus standards. Government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency develop and enforce regulations that help protect consumers, but they also rely heavily upon standards and conformity assessment programs that have been developed by U.S.-based standards developing organizations and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

With the goal of helping organizations in the international food supply chain, ISO has recently announced the availability of an ISO Pack on Food Safety Management Systems. This new CD packages the ISO 22000 series of standards together for use by any type of organization, including feed producers, primary producers through food manufacturers, transport and storage operators, and subcontractors to retail and food service outlets.

Implemented by more than 700 organizations in over 60 countries, the ISO 22000 series of standards was developed by Technical Committee 34, Food products (ISO TC 34). The ANSI-Accredited U.S. TAG Administrator for ISO TC 34 is the American Oil Chemists’ Society.

But international standards are only one side of the food safety coin. Reliable conformity assessment practices ensure consumers that they can have confidence in the safety and quality of the food they eat.

Since 2004, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has partnered with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) to provide a neutral, third-party verification for FMI’s Safety Quality Food (SQF) certification program. [see related article]

SQF is an ANSI-accredited, fully integrated food safety and quality program. It outlines safety and quality requirements for all food commodities, including raw materials, beverages, and processed and prepared foods, and has established standards for both third-party auditing and training. Using the SQF program, a food supplier can ensure that its products have been produced, prepared, transported, stored and handled according to the most rigorous international standards.

ANSI accredits the certification bodies that audit suppliers under the SQF program. Accreditation by ANSI ensures that auditing organizations are legal entities, independent and free of conflicts of interest, employ qualified people, and have proper oversight. All auditing organizations must comply with the requirements of Guide 65, General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems, of ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ANSI’s accreditation programs themselves are created in accordance with international guidelines as verified by government and peer review assessments.

Reliance upon ANSI accreditation programs ensures best industry practices, reduces the need for government agencies to individually monitor credentialing organizations, and strengthens consumer confidence in products and services. Accreditation provides certification programs with credibility and international recognition, and helps to promote the cross-border trade of goods and services.

For more information about ANSI’s accreditation programs, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.

AN INTRODUCTION TO STANDARDS: WHY, WHERE AND HOW ARE THEY DEVELOPED?