In April 2022, IFS announced the ‘public draft version’ of its new IFS Food Standard, issue 8. The publication of the final version is expected soon, but, given the suspension, it may take some time. What can you expect and how can you prepare? The requirements for certified companies are (mainly) laid down in part 2 of the standard: the audit checklist. Here you will find the changes that directly affect certified companies. Three topics warrant special attention: ‘policy’, ‘validation’, and ’testing’.
In section 1.1.1., we see a new development: the introduction of ‘sustainability’ as a requirement for company policy. Although sustainability is only mentioned once, it is noteworthy that the topic of ‘sustainability’ has been included in a standard for food safety and product quality. We have to wait and see if it will make it to the final version, as the IFS has also introduced a special standard for sustainability: the IFS ESG Check.
In 1.1.1., we also see some additional criteria for the company’s objectives in support of the food safety culture. We have already seen this in the BRCGS version 9, where in section 1.1.1. it has been added that the company must include in its policy that it will continuously improve its food safety and quality culture.
Food safety and quality culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and norms that influence the mindset and behavior of the entire organization with regard to food safety and quality. Management that promotes a food safety and quality culture helps the company and its employees prevent and detect deviations in any process that affect the safety, quality, and legality of its products. When this is achieved, employees instinctively become aware of the elements necessary to produce safe, quality products.
One of the main reasons for publishing a new version of the IFS Food is its alignment with the general food hygiene principles of the Codex Alimentarius. Therefore, validation has become more important. Instead of only validating the critical limits (22.214.171.124), the entire HACCP plan must now be validated (126.96.36.199). This means that the validation now also includes hazard identification, risk assessment, identification of CCPs, control measures, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification procedures, and the prerequisites program. This requirement has a major impact and requires a thorough approach in order to meet it. Other topics for which validation is specifically required are:
Here, too, we see the parallels with BRCGS version 9. The new version of the Codex Alimentarius has also left a clear mark on this standard. Validation has become an integral part of the quality management system.
A validation is always performed in advance with the aim of:
A closer look at the changes in the published consultation version shows that the role of testing has become more important. Testing is an important tool for the validation of the HACCP plan (188.8.131.52) and within product development (4.3.3; 4.3.4; 4.3.6; 4.5.1). It is also necessary for approval and monitoring of suppliers (4.4.1), material control (4.4.2), verification of outsourced processes (4.4.5), verification of cleaning and disinfection (4.10.7), release of non-conforming products (4.12.6) and the mitigation of food fraud (4.20.3). In addition, testing is needed to ensure that product safety, quality, legality, authenticity, and specific customer requirements are met (5.6.1) and for environmental monitoring (5.6.2).
This requires a strategic sampling and testing plan for raw materials, (semi) finished products, packaging material, contact surfaces, and environmental surfaces, which must be regularly reviewed and updated (5.6.8). Furthermore, the company must comply with the agreements with the customer about testing & monitoring (KO 4, 4.1.3). As this is new within this KO requirement, it calls for special attention to avoid failing the audit.
KTBA has over 25 years of knowledge and experience in the food industry regarding food safety and quality management systems to meet regulatory and certification requirements. We know how to read, interpret and comply with standards and protocols. We know how to put them into practice. We support you in making carefully-considered decisions, in developing and executing projects, and in implementing and maintaining quality management systems. This allows you to accurately and efficiently validate and control your processes and products.