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In February, Foundation FSSC 22000 has launched the FSSC Development Program, a new food safety program especially for Smaller and Medium-Sized food organizations (SMEs). SMEs come in different shapes and sizes and this newly launched program offers the flexibility to support food manufacturing SMEs in their food safety ambitions. In this article, Market Development Director Cor Groenveld tells the story behind this new program, why it was developed, how it works, and why it is so important.

“The growing world population needs affordable, safe, and good quality products, produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.” That’s the vision of Foundation FSSC 22000. Cor explains: “SMEs are a major part of the food supply chain and therefore also responsible for many food products. Think of ingredient manufacturers who process rice and cocoa, or street vendors who sell ready-made products to consumers. But also upcoming start-ups and manufacturers of artisan products, like special beers, local sausages, artisan cookies, and jams are a growing supplier group within the food supply chain.
Within these companies, there is a lot of knowledge and skills in making great products, but the level of knowledge to fully understand international standards like FSSC 22000 is often not sufficient. For those companies the FSSC Development Program might offer the solution. It is a flexible program with two levels. You can start at the level your business requires and choose to proceed to the next level or not. The level is dependent on the demands of the market and the business needs.”

“It is a flexible program with 2 levels. You can start at the level your business requires and choose to proceed to the next level or decide not to. That’s all up to the manufacturer and the demands of its market.”
Cor Groenveld, Market Development Director

Quality of assessments assured

A few years ago the GFSI has launched its Global Markets Program and it didn’t take FSSC long to decide to develop the FSSC Global Markets Program in 2017. Over the years the Foundation has thoroughly evaluated and reviewed the Program and decided to launch a renewed Program early 2020: the FSSC Development Program. It is not only the name of the program that has changed; improvements were also made regarding the governance and structure of the Program.
The FSSC Development Program is covered by the FSSC 22000 Integrity Program. With the Integrity Program, the Conformity Assessment Bodies, Training Organizations, and assessment reports are monitored on a frequent basis. The Integrity Program ensures the quality of the assessments and training of the auditors. Since the requirements for assessors are not as extensive as for full certification, the FSSC Development Program also offers Assessment Bodies the opportunity to educate and attract new assessors.

Flexibility

The Program consists of two levels and is aligned to the structure of the FSSC 22000 Scheme. As a food organization you can choose to start and stay on the level of your choice depending on your ambitions and needs of your clients. You can also choose to proceed to full FSSC 22000 certification. This is for the food organization to decide on. The food safety requirements of the Development Program are clear and understandable and fit for purpose to SMEs. This makes it easier for smaller organizations to meet basic food safety requirements, such as basic HACCP and basic hygiene requirements.

DP Structure

More than a Conformity Statement

The FSSC Development Program delivers more than just a Conformity Statement. It supports organizations with improving their food safety system by offering a self-assessment tool. This tool can be downloaded for free from the FSSC website and can be used by a food organization to perform a self-evaluation. The tool supports the organization by identifying any gaps in the requirements and to decide what the right level is to enter the Program. When needed, the organization can also ask for training by an approved training organization to ensure they understand the requirements and are able to implement them effectively.

How does the FSSC Development Program relate to the FSSC 22000 Scheme?

Unique to this program is that it is, just like the FSSC 22000 Scheme, based on ISO 22000 and the technical specifications for prerequisite programs and it uses the same structure and sequence of requirements. This is an advantage for organizations that want to proceed towards full FSSC 22000 certification. But there is another advantage. ISO 22000 is internationally the most accepted independent food safety management system standard and therefore often better accepted by local governments and larger food organizations. Therefore using the program support SMEs to meet legislation and to provide better market access.

How can you start with the Program?

Step 1: Reflect

  • Download all relevant Program requirements
  • Complete a self-evaluation against the requirements using the free to download requirements and self-evaluation tool.

Step 2: Prepare

  • When needed, get support from an FSSC Development Program licensed Training Organization.
  • Contact an FSSC Development Program licensed Conformity Assessment Body
  • Arrange an assessment of the food safety system by the Conformity Assessment Body and implement any corrective actions in case of non-conformities

Step 3: Conformity Statement

  • After a successful assessment, the Conformity Assessment Body will issue a Conformity Statement (on Level 1 or 2) and the organization will be listed in the FSSC register of Conforming Organizations.
  • To continue the conforming status, annual assessments will be conducted.
  • Organizations can decide to stay on their conforming level 1 or 2 or can choose to proceed towards achieving full FSSC 22000 certification.
  • The validity of a Conformity Statement Level 1 or 2 is one year.