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FSSC 22000 Version 4: An Overview of the Main Changes

The widely adopted certification scheme FSSC 22000 has been revised, in order to stay in tune with the changing expectations of the market. The new issue, Version 4, was published in December 2016. As one of the leading certification bodies for the FSSC 22000 scheme, we have prepared an overview of the main changes.

The main reason to revise the existing scheme has been to align the FSSC 22000 scheme with the benchmark requirements of the GFSI. With the publication of the GFSI Guidance Document Version 7 expected in the fall of 2016, certain updates to the scheme had become necessary in order to maintain status as a GFSI-benchmarked scheme.

With the new GFSI requirements as a baseline, it is no surprise that the changes in the new version of FSSC 22000 revolve around two major topics: the introduction of an unannounced audit scheme as well as the prevention of food fraud. Thus, the changes appearing in FSCC 22000 Version 4 are reminiscent of the changes we already noted in the latest revisions of the IFS and BRC food safety standards.

Unannounced audits with FSSC 22000

In order to safeguard the credibility of FSSC 22000 certification and to comply with GFSI requirements, the new version of the FSSC scheme introduces unannounced audits. Unlike for BRC and IFS certification, the unannounced audits are not optional but mandatory: at least one of the two surveillance audits must be unannounced. The decision which of the two surveillance audits shall be unannounced lies with the certification body.

Certified sites can also choose to have both surveillance audits unannounced. The initial audit and the recertification audit, however, can never be unannounced.

As far as the time window is concerned, the unannounced audit needs to be conducted at any point between 3 and 12 months after the last day of the previous audit. The next announced audit shall be within 24 months of the last day of the previous announced audit.

Preventing Food Fraud

One of the most conspicuous new requirements, applicable to any scope, is the requirement on food fraud prevention: according to Version 4, certified organizations shall have a documented food fraud vulnerability assessment procedure in place, in order to identify potential vulnerabilities and prioritize food fraud mitigation measures.

This also includes “a documented plan that specifies the measures the organization has implemented to mitigate fraud and the public health risks from the identified food fraud vulnerabilities, supported by the organization’s food safety management system and compliant with relevant legislation”.

Other Changes in Version 4

Other noteworthy changes in the new version include:

  • Extension of the scope: Catering is now also an area covered by FSSC 22000 certification, with ISO/TS 22002-2:2013 as the relevant standard. The scheme also covers Retail, with PAS 221 as the reference. Storage and distribution is another area to be added to the scope in the near future.
  • The new version introduces mandatory auditor rotation: auditors will no longer be permitted to audit the same organization for longer than three years in a row

Timeline

Version 4 was published in December 2016. Certification to the new version is possible from January 2017 onwards. As of January 2018, certification to Version 4 is mandatory.

DQS: Your Partner for FSSC 22000 Certification

DQS is your global partner for HPC certification. We schedule audits without hassle, rely exclusively on experienced auditors, create added value with intelligent audit reports and guide you through the entire certification process. Contact us to discuss your projects, or follow us on LinkedIn to receive regular updates on certification and quality management.

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About the Author

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH
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