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Arla Foods - Lifting food safety with ISO 22000

With ISO 22000, we are on the forefront of the development within the food safety area. With Bureau Veritas we are sure that the standard is well implemented, and we keep improving ourselves.
Niels Juul Mortensen
Quality Manager Central Quality Department, Arla Foods amba

BUSINESS CHALLENGE

For Europe’s second largest dairy group, Denmark’s Arla Foods, food safety is fundamental. It is vital that Arla Foods’s consumers have absolute confidence in its milk-based products. And that its clients – including some of the biggest retailers in Europe – are convinced about the company’s excellence. Danish food producers have long been recognised for their tradition to meet high food safety standards with high quality products.  Arla Foods wanted to bring this tradition into the future. It decided to become a food safety pioneer by lifting its food safety standards to a new level, and setting the precedent for the entire dairy sector. 

SOLUTION

As Arla Foods’s production sites were already certified in Danish HACCP-standard DS 3027, the food safety level was already high. Going further was a challenge. Arla Foods chose ISO 22000 as its tool for improvement. And it selected long-term partner Bureau Veritas as the certification body, mostly for Bureau Veritas’s proven track record, and comprehensive knowledge and experience within the food industry. Bureau Veritas played an active role in the development of the global food safety standard ISO 22000 and was the first certification body worldwide to issue an accredited certificate.  As the ISO 22000 standard is now replacing local standards in more than 40 countries, creating a true global standard, Arla Foods decided to become one of the first companies certified in ISO 22000 and started the upgrading process from DS 3027 to ISO 22000 right away. Rather than starting small, Arla Foods decided to implement the new standard throughout its 30 production sites.

To launch the process, a group of employees from all departments made a thorough investigation of all the dairy workflows. They analysed all microbiological, chemical, biological and physical risks, evaluating each one according to likelihood and impact. Based on this analysis, they implemented a food safety “traffic light,” whereby serious malfunctions turn on a red light and the whole production process immediately stops. Less serious incidents turn on a yellow light, which means that after production finishes, the food safety incident is evaluated. A green light means that the production can continue while the minor problem is being fixed.

With Bureau Veritas, the implementation of the new global ISO 22000 standard was harmonised on all production sites, and the sharp focus on continuous improvements is keeping the management system alive. This helps Arla Foods improve themselves – even though the bar was set pretty high from the beginning of the process.

BENEFITS

By implementing ISO 22000, Arla Foods can be confident that all its employees are conscious of the importance of food safety across its production chain. With the easy-to-understand traffic light alert system, major food safety incidents are identified and solved immediately. On the production floor, communication is enhanced by ISO 22000 – both internally and externally – resulting in risk reduction. A global standard gives everybody in the food chain the same vocabulary and avoids costly and risky misunderstandings. Even though the food safety level was remarkably high before the ISO 22000 implementation, Arla Foods went further. No client – big or small – can be in doubt about Arla Foods’s food safety capabilities.

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> Client: Arla Foods

> Client industry: Food

> Client size (2004/2005):
- 20,000 employees
- Revenue DKK 46.3 billion (€ 6.1 billion)
- More than 50 production sites in 9 countries
- Handles 8,4 billion kg of milk a year

> Client profile:
Arla Foods is the largest dairy company in Northern Europe and owned by 10,500 milk-producing farmers in Denmark and Sweden. The products are sold in more than 100 countries all over the world.

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