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Global Food Safety Standards & Regulations

The food trade has enormous impact on both the health of populations and the economies of nations.

Organisations from the UN to world trade bodies, national governments and processors accept that people have the right to expect a high standard from food. At the same time they need to ensure trade does not have so many restrictions that it becomes too burdensome.

World food trade

With increasing urbanisation, countries across the globes are becoming more reliant on global trade and food processing for their supply of food. The food trade has enormous impact on both the health of population and the economy of the nations. According to UNCTAD, the volume of world food trade is valued more than US$500 billion.

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Impact on Businesses


These requirements impact business sectors like food processors and producers in every country as consumers are demanding better safety and quality. Producers and processors exporting food to other countries are subject to their own national regulations and also the strict enforcements of standards and regulations of the major importing countries.

The implementation of food safety involves a complex mix of laws, standards and accepted good practices, involving governments, international organisations (e.g. WTO), industry organisations (e.g. GFSIBRC), research agencies, independent standards bodies (e.g. BRC, IFS) and independent certification bodies.

Why the Need for Food safety standards?

Food safety standards help companies establish good manufacturing processes so they can produce safe products that comply with food safety legislation and meet quality levels expected by consumers.

They are generally formulated by independent bodies such as BRC and IFS, adopted by food processing businesses and checked by certified accreditation bodies.

Global Food Safety Initiative

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a body set up by the world’s leading retailers and manufacturers in 2000 to provide thought leadership and guidance on food safety management systems.

GFSI facilitates collaboration between the food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and food service companies, and also international organisations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry.

A benchmark for food safety standards

GFSI creates the benchmark for food safety standards and gives approval to those that reach its ‘standard for standards’.

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety was the first to be approved by GFSI and is the most widely used worldwide. This sets out seven sections for an effective food safety system:

Effective Food Safety System

  1. Senior management commitment and continual improvement.
  2. The Food Safety Plan: HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) program based on the requirements of the Codex Alimentarius system.
  3. Food safety and quality management system: product specifications, supplier approval, traceability, and the management of incidents and product recalls. This builds on the principles of ISO 9000.
  4. Site standards: layout and maintenance of the buildings and equipment, cleaning, pest control, waste management and foreign body control.
  5. Product control: product design and development including allergen management, product and ingredient provenance, product packaging and product inspection and testing.
  6. Process control: safe process controls, weight/volume control, equipment calibration, ensuring the HACCP plan is implemented.
  7. Personnel: standards for staff training, protective clothing and personal hygiene.

Rentokil Initial and BRC Global Standards have formed a strategic partnership to enable ongoing collaboration and development of new initiatives in risks mitigation and improve best practices in the food industry.

Codex Alimentarius

The global reference point for food producers, processors, consumers, national food safety agencies and the international food trade is the Codex Alimentarius, first drawn up by the FAO and WHO in 1961 and managed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The importance of Codex Alimentarius was recognised in the 1985 United Nations Resolution 39/248:

"Governments should take into account the need of all consumers for food security and should support and, as far as possible, adopt standards from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization Codex Alimentarius..."

Global reference point for food safety and quality

It has become the global driver for harmonisation of practices and standards among national bodies, for food safety and quality and also international trade. Its standards are recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the settlement of trade disputes.

The Codex has stimulated countries to introduce new food legislation and Codex-based standards, and to establish or strengthen agencies responsible for monitoring compliance with regulations.

Food Safety Legislations and Standards

Ever-tightening policies and regulations today make it essential for companies handling food to take appropriate measures and proactive approach in early detection to control pests in food and food supplies.

Rentokil is your professional partner when it comes to controlling pest risks in compliance with Malaysia’s food safety legislations and industry best practice and statutory obligations.


Food Standards Agency. Food Hygiene. A Guide for Businesses. London, Food Standards Agency, 2013

Overview of HACCP Principles. University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

FDA. Food Safety Modernisation Act.

North Dakota State University. Food Law. International Considerations.

European Commission. Food Hygiene Basic Legislation.

Food guidance regulations

  1. www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm334115.htm
  2. www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm253380.htm

Malaysia food guidance regulations

  1. http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/006/ad698e.htm
  2. http://www.fmm.org.my/images/articles/GS1%20Malaysia/Presentation%20FMM%20Food%20Hygiene.pdf

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The role & application of HACCP

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