Tuna Processing Quality Certifications

ISO22000 brc food ifs sqf gfsi


For tuna processors and tuna buyers who wish to get a better understanding of the processing certifications and its pre-requirements that are commonly used in our industry, below you will find an overview:


The basic requirements for any tuna processor facility

Any tuna processor must understand the basic principles behind Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and how to comply with them. For tuna processors, SSOPs are the foundation of their tuna processing plants’ food safety programs.

What are SSOPs?

SSOPs are the specific, written procedures necessary to ensure sanitary conditions in the tuna plant. They include written steps for cleaning and sanitizing to prevent adulteration.
Both pre-operational (before daily tuna processing begins) and operational (during tuna processing) sanitation needs are included in SSOPs to prevent direct tuna’s product contamination or adulteration.

What are GMPs?

GMPs contain both requirements and guidelines for manufacturing of food products in a sanitary environment.



haccpIn the early 1960s, a collaborated effort between the Pillsbury Company, NASA, and the U.S. Army Laboratories began with the objective to provide safe food for space expeditions. Based on 7 principles HACCP was created in order to ensure safe food.

HACCP is a science based and systematic preventive approach to food safety and allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in tuna production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. Consequently, HACCP is referred to as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a tuna fish supply chain, from fishing, food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

U.S Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) – HACCP



ISO22000ISO 22000 covers the criteria of all other national food safety standards that have been developed for the food and tuna industry globally. ISO 22000 intends to bring direction to the often confusing and somewhat chaotic world of the various food standards used in the industry. Processors who have accomplished ISO 22000 certification will automatically also meet the BRC and IFS standards.

This is because the current demands from retailers for the standards in specific markets such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in the UK and the International Food Standard (IFS) in Germany and France have similar approaches. ISO 22000 harmonizes the international food safety approaches and provides a tool to build the current formalized method of assessing food safety, hazard Analysis and critical control point (HACCP), to a standard suitable for all industry stake holders.

The ISO 22000 international standard specifies the requirements for a food safety management system that involves the following elements:

  • Interactive communication
  • System management
  • Prerequisite programs
  • HACCP principles

Although several companies, especially the big ones, have either implemented or are about to implement ISO 22000, there are many others that are hesitant to adopt it. The main reason behind that is the lack of information and the fear that the new standard is too demanding in terms of bureaucratic work, from abstract of case study.
ISO 22000 does not replace HACCP. The requirements for HACCP are set with the global agreement of the United Nations Codex Alimentarius Commission – and these are the bases for international trade and national legislation around the world. HACCP is a system, ISO 22000 is a standard. ISO 22000 can be used to measure the success of a company’s implementation of HACCP, as well as pre-requisites to HACCP and quality systems.

ISO 22000 requires tuna processors to ensure continual improvement of the effectiveness of the food safety management system. This standard introduces communication, management review, internal auditing, and evaluation of results of verification, validation of controls, corrective actions and updating of FSMS. Some of these are not found in a pure HACCP thereby exposing the limitations as a management tool.

ISO website


Global Standard for Food Safety (BRC Issue 6 – British Retail Consortium)

brc foodIn 1998, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), responding to industry’s needs, developed and introduced the BRC Food Technical Standard to be used to evaluate manufacturers of retailers’ own brand food products. It is designed to assist retailers and brand owners produce food products of consistent safety and quality and assist with their ‘due diligence’ defense, should they be subject to a prosecution by the enforcement authorities. Under EU food Law, retailers and brand owners have a legal responsibility for their brands.

In a short period of time, this standard became invaluable to other organizations across the sector. It was and still is regarded as the benchmark for best practice in the food industry. This and its use outside the UK has led it to evolve into a Global Standard used not just to assess retailer suppliers, but as a framework upon which many companies have based their supplier assessment programmes and manufacture of branded products.

Many UK, North American and European retailers as well as brand owners will only consider business with suppliers who have gained certification to the appropriate BRC Global Standard.
It is well known for its global standards in four areas, in the tuna industry:

  • Food safety
  • Consumer products
  • Packaging and packaging materials
  • Storage and distribution

BRC is one of the most common food safety certifications that tuna industry follows, implements and certifies.

BRC website


International Featured Standards (IFS)

ifsHauptverband des Deutschen Einzelhandels (HDE), of its French Fédération des entreprises du Commerce et de la Distribution (FCD) and Italian COOP, CONAD, Federdistribuzione counterparts, have drawn up quality and food standards. It is for branded products for both retailers and wholesalers. It intends to enable the assessment of suppliers’ food safety and quality systems, in accordance to a uniform approach. This IFS Food applies to all the post-farm gate stages of food processing. Retailers from Austria, Poland, Spain and Switzerland also adopted IFS as their food safety standard.

IFS apply in the tuna industry when raw tuna are “processed” or when there is a hazard for product contamination during primary packing. The IFS Food Standard is important for all tuna processors, especially those producing private labels, because it contains many requirements related to specifications’ compliance.

It supports production and marketing efforts for brand safety and quality.

IFS Food standard version 6 has been developed with full and active involvement of certification bodies, retailers, tuna industry and tuna food service companies from all over the world.

IFS website


Safe Quality Food (SQF)

sqfSQF, a division of the US based Food Marketing Division (FMI), is a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) designed to provide food industry with a rigorous system to manage food safety risks,provide safe products and ensure customers get a recognized food safety certification for the products.

SQF is recognized by retailers and foodservice mainly in the Canadian and North American markets that require a rigorous, credible food safety management system. Using the SQF certification program will help reduce assessment inconsistencies and costs of multiple assessment standards.

SQF Highlights:

  • Managed by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI)
  • GFSI Recognized to give you access to leading food and retail customers worldwide
  • Ability to choose from Level 2 (Food Safety) or Level 3 ( Food Safety and Quality)
  • Ability to choose GMP/PRP requirements specifically for industry sector. For example, food processing or food packagings manufacture.

SQF website
FMI website


Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

gfsiGSFI is not a standard, but an initiative by large global food companies united in the Consumer Goods Forum back in 2000. Food safety was a top of mind issue for these corporations due to several high-profile recalls, quarantines and negative publicity about the food industry. There was also extensive audit fatigue through the industry, as retailers performed inspections or audits themselves or asked a third party to do this on their behalf. These were often carried out against food safety schemes that lacked international certification and accreditation, resulting in incomparable auditing results.

CEOs of global companies came together at The Consumer Goods Forum (CIES at the time) and agreed that consumer trust needed to be strengthened and maintained through a safer supply chain. GFSI was created to achieve this through the harmonization of food safety standards that would reduce audit duplication throughout the supply chain. At the time, there was no existing scheme that could be qualified as “global” that could be adopted by all.

GFSI therefore chose to go down the route of benchmarking, developing a model that determines equivalency between existing food safety schemes, whilst leaving flexibility and choice in the marketplace. GFSI has recognized the BRC , IFS, and SQF standards, but not yet the ISO 22000 for reasons which are unclear.
The Global Food Safety Initiative is a business-driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. GFSI provides a platform for collaboration between some of the world’s leading food safety experts from retailer, manufacturer and food service companies, service providers associated with the food supply chain, international organizations, academia and government.

GFSI website

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.