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FSSC Response After ISO 22000:2018 Release

11 December 2018
It was no surprise to FSSC Harmonization Conference attendees this October, that the technical team at FSSC announced their plan to move forward with the new version 5.

As the FSSC scheme is based on ISO 22000 standard, apart from the relevant PRP technical specification by sector and additional FSSC requirements, after the new version 2018 was released back in June this year, FSSC needed to have a plan to adjust to the changes and make a quick move in order to ensure a smooth transition for all FSSC certified organizations before the deadline on 18th of June 2021.

FSSC 22000 version 5 looks for alignment with ISO 22000:2018 requirements and GFSI benchmarking requirements version 7.2; it will introduce new concepts and changes already seen in other GFSI recognized schemes.

We cannot forget to mention that the alignment with the latest version of ISO 22000 will also bring the opportunity to easily integrate FSSC with other management systems, such as ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and ISO 27001. All these standards will shared the same “High level” structure, making the life easier for organizations with more than one certified management system.

A new concept that will have to be implemented by organizations looking for transition or certification to version 5 of FSSC will be Food Safety culture.

Companies such as Walmart know well about this concept. Food Safety Culture was introduced a long time ago in the big retailer to ensure food safety and specific internal specifications were spread in a proper manner throughout the whole supply chain.

Communication therefore is the key, and organizations must monitor that their policies, procedures and specifications as well as applicable regulations depending on the sector are effectively implemented, communicated to all relevant personnel in the supply chain, controlled and verifiable during an audit.
Another aspect mentioned during the FSSC Harmonization Conference was the possible use of a technical expert accompanying the lead auditor. This is a change that will probably be soon announced by FSSC but still pending confirmation.

The technical expert will be there in order to provide expertise in the process, but he/she would not interfere in the final decision made by the lead auditor with regard to the certification decision. Does that mean the lead auditor does not understand the process?

Auditor’s competence is one of the challenges that the certification bodies must handle carefully. The use of a technical expert let the certification companies to assign an auditor to an organization where, apart from the knowledge of standard requirements and specific qualifications required for the role, he/she may need support to calibrate auditor’s skills and technical aspects. On this way, this will guarantee the professionalism of the audit team that will visit your premises and will bring more resources with regard to auditor’s allocation by sector for all FSSC accredited certification bodies.

But not all will be easier for the CBs regarding auditor’s competence; FSSC will also introduce the obligation of passing a GFSI exam to all FSSC auditors apart from all the specific requirements that are already established in version 4.1. The path will be therefore focused on closing a door and opening a window.

The plan to transition to version 5 was already approved by the FSSC Foundation and it is now the time to develop the requirements and getting approval from the Dutch AB before its expected publication in May 2019.
In the meantime, all FSSC certified organizations, must start having a look at the new requirements of ISO 22000:2018 and thinking on a transition date as part of the certification cycle from the date their certification body announces its accreditation to this new version, as sooner the better and easiest for all!