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What is Food Safety Certification?|Understanding the Content of Food Safety Certification

What is Food Safety Certification?|Understanding the Content of Food Safety Certification

Key Points:

▪  Core Spirit of Food Safety Certification: Consistency in saying, writing, and doing.
▪  Food safety Certification should be for self-examination, not inspection.
▪  Obtaining food safety “certification,” not “accreditation.”
▪  Fewer CCP means good PRP.
▪  Optimizing the food safety system through OPDCA.
▪  The unmeasurable “conscience” is the true food safety.

Hello everyone,

I’m Andy, a tea enthusiast.

Food safety is an important issue. Many food manufacturers use “food safety certification” to prove the safety of their products.
Tea is not only an agricultural product but also a “food.”
Manufacturers claim to pass various food safety certifications.
Does this make the product safer or tastier?

➤ What is Food Safety Certification?
Food factories implement a series of methods and get third-party certification to ensure that all stages, from production to table, meet established food safety standards, thereby maintaining consumer health.

➤ What is the difference between certification and accreditation?
Certification confirms that the system follows regulations,
while accreditation means acquiring a certain capability.
Food safety is a system, not a capability.

➤ What are the food safety certification systems?
The methods to maintain food safety are diverse, and different certification systems contain different contents. There is no “better” certification system
If the food safety system is required by customers, that's another matter. From the simplest to the most complex:

SQF Level 3 is currently the most difficult food safety certification to obtain.
▪  Food Safety Regulations (GHP) > TQF (formerly GMP) > HACCP > ISO 22000 > FSSC 22000 > BRC, SQF
▪  Religious certifications: HALAL certification, Kosher certification

➤What does ISO 22000:2018 mean?
ISO 22000 represents the certification method, and 2018 represents the version. The version is not updated annually.

➤ Using addition to understand food safety systems:

• GHP: Hygiene management, process and quality, storage, transportation, inspection and measurement, customer complaints, product recall, document control, education and training.
• TQF = GHP + Total Quality Management (TQM)
• ISO 22000 = GHP + ISO 9001 + HACCP
• FSSC 22000 = ISO 22000 + ISO/TS 22002-1 + additional requirements (food defense plan, food fraud prevention plan, service management, product labeling, logo use, allergen management, environmental monitoring)
• SQF Level 3 = FSSC 22000 + Quality Management System (CQP)

➤ Food Safety Standards/Systems Comparison


Applicable Entities
Standard & Certification
Labeling on Packaging


Ensure hygiene during food production, handling, storage, and distribution
Food production and handling processes
Hygiene management, contamination prevention
Food production companies, catering services, etc.
Not a standalone certification standard

TQF (formerly GMP)

Ensure overall food quality, including hygiene, safety, nutrition, taste, appearance, etc.
All stages of food production
Comprehensive quality improvement, emphasizes TQM
All stages of the food supply chain, from producers to consumers

Not a standalone certification standard, helps achieve other quality and safety certifications

Ensure food safety during production
Food production processes
Risk-based preventive control
Food production companies
Basis for food safety management systems
ISO 22000
Provide unified food safety management standards
All stages of the food supply chain
Standardized food safety management, emphasizes continuous improvementVarious food production and handling companies
International standard for food safety management systems certification
FSSC 22000
Ensure the effectiveness of food safety management systems
Based on ISO 22000 standard, combined with ISO/TS 22002-1 and other related standards
Systematic food safety management
Food manufacturing, packaging manufacturing, animal feed manufacturing, etc.
Certified according to FSSC 22000 standard
Ensure food safety and quality in the supply chain
All stages of food manufacturing, packaging, storage, and distribution
Supply chain transparency and product traceability
Food manufacturing and retail industries
Certified according to BRC global standard
Ensure food safety and quality
Covers the entire food supply chain from farm to table
HACCP-based food safety plan and quality management
Food production companies, suppliers, retailers, etc
Three-tier certification: Level 1 (basic food safety), Level 2 (HACCP), Level 3 (Quality Management System) Level 3: Yes
Level 3: Yes


Ensure compliance with Islamic law
All stages of food production, processing, storage, and distribution
Compliance with Islamic law
All stages of the food supply chain
Certified by Halal certification bodies


Ensure compliance with Jewish law
All stages of food production, processing, storage, and distribution
Compliance with Jewish law
All stages of the food supply chain
Certified by Kosher certification bodies

➤ What is a Prerequisite Program (PRP)?
Emphasizes ensuring the safety of processes “outside” food production.
For instance, pest control and choosing qualified suppliers maintain the safety of food production processes. The 5S management implemented in Japan can be seen as a PRP execution. Food safety hazards often do not come from the production process, such as unwashed hands causing food contamination and food poisoning incidents.
5S: SEIRI (Sort), SEITON (Set in order), SEISO (Shine), SEIKETSU (Standardize), SHITSUKE (Sustain).

➤ What is Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)?

Emphasizes ensuring the safety of the food production process. Set critical control points (CCP) to control potential hazards in the food production process.
The control limits of CCP must be measurable and cannot be out of control. For example, using magnets to attract metal foreign objects, its magnetic force must be measurable and can effectively attract metals and be recorded.

➤ What is the difference between Critical Control Point (CCP) and Critical Quality Point (CQP)?

CCP(Critical Control Point)
 CQP(Critical Quality Point)

Control food safety hazards to ensure product safetyControl product quality characteristics to ensure quality consistency
Food safety hazards (biological, chemical, physical hazards)

Quality characteristics (e.g., weight, size, packaging appearance, quantity, sensory quality (color, smell, taste, texture), chemical quality (moisture content, salinity, oil content, sugar content, acidity))

Food safety management and control measures to prevent safety issuesQuality management and control measures to improve overall product quality
Monitoring and Measurement
Monitoring and measuring hazard pointsMonitoring and measuring quality characteristics
Control Measures
Corrective and preventive measures to ensure product safety
Corrective and preventive measures to maintain and improve product quality

➤ What is the difference between Critical Control Point (CCP) and Operational Prerequisite Program (OPRP)?

FeatureCritical Control Point (CCP)Operational Prerequisite Program (OPRP)
GoalControl specific food safety hazards to ensure hazards are effectively controlledControl potential food safety hazards to support the effective operation of CCP
ScopeUsually targets critical, strictly controlled biological, chemical, and physical hazardsCovers a wide range of operations in the production process, targeting multiple potential hazards
Control MeasuresStrict, specific control measures must be implemented at specific pointsGeneral, daily operational measures to support and maintain a food safety environment
Monitoring FrequencyRequires frequent, continuous monitoring and recordingTypically periodic monitoring with lower frequency
Critical LimitsHas specific critical limits (e.g., temperature, time, pH value, etc.)No specific critical limits, but there are operational standards and norms
Corrective MeasuresMust take immediate corrective action if critical limits are exceededCorrect deviations to restore standard operations when they occur
Applicable EntitiesTargets specific processes and steps that may directly affect food safetySupports CCP operation and maintains food safety in auxiliary processes
Recording RequirementsRequires detailed records proving each batch meets safety standardsRequires records but generally simpler, aiming to maintain operational consistency
Higher, requires professional knowledge and skills to manageLower, usually executed by operators according to standard procedures
Management InvolvementRequires close supervision and involvement from senior management and technical personnelMainly handled by on-site operators and mid-level managers

Simply put, CCP must immediately stop food safety incidents, while OPRP may not necessarily stop food safety incidents. If unsure, you can use the “decision tree” to determine whether a production step is CCP or OPRP.

➤ Does obtaining SQF Level 3 mean the food tastes better?
No, it only indicates that the food's quality is quite stable.
The food safety management system requires "controllable" and "stable."
If the food tastes exceptionally good, it is another sign of poor quality,
indicating that the quality management limits are out of control.

➤ What is the relationship between SGS and ISO?
Using a credit card analogy, Taishin Bank issues Visa cards, with Taishin Bank being the card issuer and Visa being a credit transaction method.
SGS is like Taishin Bank, a verification company, and ISO is like Visa, a method. Verification companies use ISO for certification. Even with the same certification content, different verification companies will have differences in rigor.

➤ Epilogue:

Taiwan introduced HACCP in 2015, and Japan introduced it in 2018.
Japan has long implemented 5S,
representing a controlled food production environment.
Even without HACCP, food safety incidents are rare in Japan.

A HACCP plan with 1 to 2 CCPs is the healthiest, indicating good PRP.
Too many CCPs suggest poor support work quality in the production process.
Too many CCPs also lack focus, making effective risk management difficult.
When CCP points are too many,
operators spend all their time recording and managing CCPs,
delaying production speed and exhausting operators.

Additionally, food safety systems often use the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) method to improve processes.
Adding O (Observe) before P (Plan) makes OPDCA, making the process of improving food safety plans smoother.

This article contains a lot of information,
which reflects years of experience in implementing food safety certification systems at Yoshantea.

There is no “absolute” safety in food.
The only thing we can do is continuously improve food safety management methods to avoid potential risks.

Besides controlling food safety hazards,
food defense plans and food fraud prevention plans are currently key elements of food safety management.

Even the most stringent food safety certifications have shortcomings,
as deceiving auditors is also a way to obtain certification.

Only "conscience" is the true food safety certification system.

That's all for today. See you next time.

Thank you.

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