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Social responsibility is not only good for business, it is everyone’s business. New international guidance for the agri-food sector has just been published.

From ending hunger and obesity to protecting our natural resources, the food and agricultural industry has a huge role to play in the sustainable development of our world. ISO 26000 is an international reference document for social responsibility, providing best-practice guidance to help organizations operate in an ethical and transparent way that contributes directly to sustainable development. Now, a new technical specification for the agri-food industry offers sector-specific guidance on implementing social responsibility and, in particular, ISO 26000.

ISO/TS 26030, Social responsibility and sustainable development – Guidance on using ISO 26000:2010 in the food chain, provides guidelines on how an organization in the food production chain can contribute to sustainable development while considering all local laws, regulations and stakeholder expectations. It will help organizations such as food companies, farms, cooperatives, processors and retailers, regardless of their size or location, to develop a list of activities that will lead them to being more socially responsible.

Sandrine Espeillac, Manager of the ISO technical committee that developed the guidance, said there is increasing demand from consumers to have sustainable and socially responsible practices at every step of the food production chain, creating a real need for internationally agreed systems and processes.

“The food and agriculture sector has a significant influence on our world and our well-being,” she said.

“The use of ISO/TS 26030 will therefore not only help to improve social responsibility and sustainability in the food industry but have a positive impact on society as a whole. It also helps organizations contribute to many of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”

Beekeper wearing protective suit at work, inspecting wooden beehive.

This is reinforced by the participation of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the development of the document, Espeillac adds.

In addition, this ISO technical specification will help to harmonize the various approaches to sustainability in the sector at the international level, giving users a competitive edge.

ISO/TS 26030 was also the subject of a symposium on achieving social responsibility objectives, held earlier today at the French government’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris, France.

The event, organized by La Cooperation Agricole, AFNOR and BPI France, was opened by Patrick Bernasconi, President of the Council, and featured speakers from the French ministry of agriculture, La Coopération Agricole and AFNOR, along with experts in social responsibility and standardization.

ISO/TS 26030 is a food-sector application of ISO 26000, Guidance on social responsibility, ISO’s flagship standard for social responsibility. It was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 34, Food products, the secretariat of which is held by AFNOR, ISO’s member for France. It is available for purchase from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

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Clare Naden

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