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Standards and Conformance Are Key Ingredients during National Food Safety Month


New York, Sep 27, 2013

September marks the annual celebration of National Food Safety Month, highlighting the important role played by food safety measures, education, and awareness in protecting the food we eat. National Food Safety Month was created in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association, an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member. ANSI applauds National Food Safety Month and the many groups and programs that work to keep the food supply safe, including the developers of food safety–related voluntary consensus standards and certification bodies who provide oversight.

Unless you eat exclusively out of your backyard garden, the food in your fridge has to be commercially produced and then transported. An International Standard, ISO 22000:2005, Food safety management systems - Requirements for any organization in the food chain, sets specifications for organizations of all sizes involved in the commercial production and delivery of food products. This International Standard was developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 34, Food products. ANSI member the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) serves as the ANSI-accredited administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 34.

While the farm-to-table movement has grown in recent years, most of us still eat a great deal of processed food. A standard from ANSI member and audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) includes safety guidelines for facilities that process agricultural bulk materials, as well as for facilities that store or ship such goods. NFPA 61-2008, NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities, covers ventilation, equipment, and construction requirements, helping to bolster safety in these facilities.

Though there are a number of ways to preserve fresh produce, most restaurants depend on refrigeration to keep their food at its best. A standard from ANSI audited designator UL (Underwriters Laboratories) provides support for food refrigeration in commercial kitchens. UL 471-2012, Standard for Safety for Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers, provides requirements for commercial refrigerators and freezers. Another standard, NSF/ANSI 7-2009, Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers, provides guidance on walk-in and roll-in coolers, among other refrigeration units. NSF/ANSI 7-2009 was developed by NSF International, an ANSI member and audited designator.

In addition to its role as the coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standardization system, ANSI is an internationally recognized accreditation body involved in efforts to assure the safety and quality of food and food-related products. In accordance with the international standard ISO/IEC Guide 65, General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems, ANSI accreditation offers a formal, third-party process for review and recognition of certification programs on bottled water and packaged ice, drinking water additives, drinking water treatment units, and food service equipment. ANSI’s accreditation program also includes the following food and food-related sector programs for specific certifiers: Safe Quality Food (SQF) - SQF 2000 Code and SQF 1000 Code; International Featured Standards (IFS); PrimusGFS; GLOBALG.A.P; British Retail Consortium (BRC); CanadaGAP; and the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA). ANSI is authorized by various food safety scheme owners to conduct accreditations in accordance with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which benchmarks SQF, GLOBALG.A.P, BRC, PrimusGFS, IFS, and CanadaGAP and GAA. For more information on ANSI’s product accreditation services, visit www.ansi.org/accreditation.

Assuring the safety of food and food products is critical, but it’s also important to provide assurance that the individuals who handle food are trained to do so. Since 2002, ANSI has been accrediting organizations that certify food protection managers, a program that is based on the Conference for Food Protection (CFP) Accreditation Standards. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes Food Protection Manager certificates issued by an accredited certification program – such as the ANSI-CFP - as one means of meeting the FDA's Food Code knowledge requirement, and several states have also implemented mandatory Food Protection Manager Certification.

In both California and Illinois, laws have been passed requiring training providers issuing personnel certificates to food safety handlers to be accredited under the ANSI Certificate Accreditation Program, or ANSI-CAP. This oversight is intended to improve public health and strengthen food safety measures in both states. Launched in 2009, ANSI-CAP accredits organizations that issue education and training certificates to the U.S. workforce. The program is the first of its kind to offer a formal, third-party process for review and recognition of quality certificate programs.

In 2012, ANSI established a Subcommittee on Food Safety Programs as part of its Accreditation Committee on Product/Process/Services Certification. This group works to further public understanding of food safety issues and to increase awareness about third-party accreditation in this area, including information about best practices and the divide between accredited and non-accredited certification bodies. The subcommittee is currently developing ANSI’s official comments on two new proposed FDA rules intended to bolster inspections of food imported into the United States [see related story]. The proposed rules, which are related to the implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), would require food importers to maintain records demonstrating compliance with FDA safety rules and required inspection criteria. The rules would also allow recognized accreditors following FDA-approved procedures to assess the competence of the organizations performing food safety inspections being conducted on food imports.

To learn more about National Food Safety Month, check out its official website.

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