Information about standards, systems and quality standards applicable in EU countries

It is worth knowing that the first global standard for the quality management system was – BS 5750 – published by the British Standards Institution in 1979. In 1987, this standard became the ISO 9000 standard, which started a series of international standards. This standard was improved in 2000, which resulted in the international success of this quality management system. At that time, over 776 thousand ISO 9001:2000 certificates in 161 countries were issued. Since 2008, a modified ISO 9001:20008 standard has been in place. Certificates of compliance with the ISO standard are issued by an independent certification body. It is the only standard intended for certification that contains requirements for the quality management system. The ISO standard is aimed at meeting customer’s requirements by introducing supervision over documentation and records, commitment of the management to building a quality management system, systematising resource management, establishing implementation processes for the product and performing systematic measurements in terms of customer satisfaction, product quality or correctness of the processes.

The ISO 9001 is a standard accepted and recognised throughout the world. Its granting is supervised by the International Organization for Standardization. Its members are organisations from over 170 countries. Proposed amendments or proposed new standards (so-called drafts) can be submitted by any membership organisation. The amendments are discussed in working groups. The draft can become an official standard only if 3/4 of the ISO Main Committee members approve it. The number of ISO 9001 certificates issued worldwide, which confirm the compliance of quality management systems with this standard, amounts to millions.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, HACCP – a systemic procedure for identification and assessment of food safety hazards during all stages of production and distribution. This system was developed in the 1960s in the United States for NASA. It is also intended for eliminating or limiting any risks in food production. The HACCP system allows for obtaining assurance that the manufacturing plant has done everything to ensure the safety of products and consumers in accordance with applicable regulations, as well as the principles of good manufacturing practice and good hygiene practice.

The HACCP system includes 7 principles. These are: identification of hazards and describing preventive measures; identification of the critical control points (CCPa); establishing critical limits; establishing a system for monitoring the CCPs; establishing the corrective actions; establishing procedures for verification of the system; establishing procedures for records. Documentation and records of the HACCP system are evidence of ensuring food safety. It is worth noting that the procedures for preparing, handling, storing and supervising all documents and records of the HACCP system are valid and kept for 3 years after sale of the product.

The basic systems that are designed to maintain adequate control of the hygiene of the work environment and technological processes in food industry companies are Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The measures of GMP and GHP used by the HACCP management system comprise, in general, preventing food safety risks.

Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) – comprises actions and hygienic conditions which must be met and monitored at all stages of production or marketing to ensure food safety. GHP concerns: the technical condition of the buildings of the plant and its infrastructure, as well as cleanliness and order of the environment of the plant; the functionality and proper use of rooms and their equipment; the technical and sanitary condition of machines, equipment and devices; the proper functioning of the measuring and control equipment, its rating and calibration; the accuracy and effectiveness of the performed processes of cleaning and disinfection and applied detergents and disinfectants; the quality of health of water used for technological purposes; the correctness of sewage disposal and collection and disposal of solid waste; current medical certificates for sanitary and epidemiological purposes; qualifications of the staff to respect the rules of hygiene at the workplace; the effectiveness of plant protection against pests.

In turn, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) comprises actions and conditions which must be met so that the production of food and materials and products intended to come into contact with food was performed in a way that ensures the proper quality of health of food. This includes: current or periodic assessment of the quality of health of all raw materials, intermediate products, permitted additional substances and materials and products intended to come into contact with food which are used in the production process; identification of suppliers; conformity assessment of applied technological processes with established objectives; monitoring compliance with the parameters in processes that have an impact on food safety; control of the method for identification of finished products and their periodic evaluation of quality of health.

Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) is very important from the point of view of the consumer, who expects high quality food produced in accordance with the best principles. In the European Union, in 1997, Good Agricultural Practice was formalised, creating the EuroGAP system, which focuses on the process of manufacturing agricultural products. The purpose of the EuroGAP system is to manage the principles of Good Agricultural Practice, which allows for a reduction or limitation of the risk of hazards which may occur during the process of agricultural production. These actions allow farmers to produce food which is safe for consumer’s health thanks to the use of available methods and means. The principles of GAP oblige farmers and breeders to comply with the waiting periods after application of chemical fertilisers, plant protection products or drugs in the case of animal husbandry. GAP also applies to plant reproduction, history of the site, soil and substrate management, fertilisation, crop protection, water quality, security at work, hygiene during harvest and packaging, post-harvest processing, environmental protection and Occupational Health and Safety.

Quality Assurance for Food Products – QAFP – has a multiproduct nature; it covers pork and poultry, as well as poultry and pork-beef cold cuts. The standards of the QAFP system cover breeding, nutrition of animals and their rearing conditions, as well as the successive stages of production – slaughter, cutting, processing, packaging and packing, as well as storage and sale of food. Therefore, products bearing the QAFP logo are traceable at every stage of production.

QAFP – is the first such poultry system in Poland, developed by scientists from leading academic centres (including the Warsaw University of Life Sciences and the National Research Institute of Animal Production). The QAFP mark of quality on the packaging of chicken or turkey carcass indicates that this product complies with a series of stringent requirements.

Poultry designated with the QAFP certificate is controlled at every stage of production. The breeder is obliged to create appropriate conditions for breeding. The certificate also determines the composition of the feed for poultry, which should not be supplemented with growth promoters and hormones. Prior to the delivery of poultry to the abattoir, mandatory tests for the presence of Salmonella, in order to eliminate the risk of the occurrence of this bacterium, are performed. The manufacturer must also provide slaughter which minimises the stress and suffering of animals. The abattoir must meet the control requirements of the General Veterinary Inspectorate. The same requirements apply to the cutting and packaging.

In the QAFP system, the high quality of products results from ensuring the appropriate well-being of animals at every stage of production, application of GAP, GMP, HACCP and Occupational Health and Safety principles, as well as meeting all the specified criteria and conditions. Implementation of the entire process is subject to regular surveillance.