Various CoC systems are used globally to gain and convey information about the components of products, parts, and materials, as well as their transformation throughout the supply chain for food safety, sustainability, social compliance in manufacturing and many other sectors.
Various definitions of CoC models and concepts are causing unnecessary complexities, costs and loss of time resulting in a barrier to market access.
Check the animated video about the ISO Chain of Custody standard
Letter about the impact of sustainability characteristics and certification
A letter from Minister Kaag about the quality marks.
In addition to the different efforts, the cabinet has taken a leading role with industry through the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) in developing a global standard for chain management (Chain of Custody) within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This new ISO standard should offer chain parties, including merchants, processors and retailers, the tools to set up chain management with a uniform terminology and system. The expectation is that this will increase transparency within the chains. Within ISO, we are currently working with stakeholders and experts on a technical specification for Ethical Claims. This specification will provide clarity for the substantiation of claims to which sustainability labels relate.
Click for the letter (dutch)
ISO meeting in London on October 3rd and 4th 2017 and project planning
At the beginning of October we held our 2nd plenary meeting and extremely constructive working group sessions of ISO/PC 308 ‘Chain of Custody’. We succeeded to finalize a first complete working draft based on the recommendations of the task groups on standard mapping exercise (led by ITC) and the terms & definitions (led by Nofima). Also the chapters on general requirements and the description of the Chain of Custody models were extensively discussed and updated.
On November 21st, 2017 the working group experts and liaison partners discussed the necessary steps for further refinement of the draft. Before the end of this year the final WD version will be approved so that the first internal consultation among the national mirror committees can start on January 15th, 2018.
The delegations decided during the plenary meeting to invest extra time in the CD preparation to grant more ISO members the time to actively join the work within the next few months so that their contributions to the CD version can still be taken into account. The CD ballot is planned for June 2018. The next plenary meeting to approve the CD document will take place on 14-16 May 2018 at the GS1 global office in Brussels.
At the moment 11 countries and various international liaison partners are actively participating in the work of ISO/PC 308, a.o. Germany, China, Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Sweden, ISEAL, ITC, UNECE, ECOS, GS1 etc.
Newsletter ISO/PC 308 'Chain of Custody'
First ISO/PC 308 ‘Chain of Custody’ meeting successful
On 9 and 10 March 2017 more than 30 participants from eight different countries met for the first international meeting of ISO/PC 308 'Chain of Custody'. This meeting was organized to determine jointly the working area of the project committee and the scope of the new generic standard for chain of custody management.
The Solution: A Horizontal ISO Chain of Custody Standard
Recognising that the definition of CoC requirements is entirely independent of sectors, raw materials, products and issues addressed, the solution is a horizontal globally applicable ISO CoC standard to which existing systems may refer to and on which new systems can base their definition of CoC requirements. Eventually, the result will be a separation of specific requirements in a standard in relation to the subject it covers (e.g. sustainability, source, safety) and generic requirements related to the CoC.
The initiative to formulate this horizontal ISO standard is taken by NEN in close cooperation with the Dutch government and mostly multi-nationally active representatives from private sector companies and industry associations, round tables and certification organisations.
The initiative is strongly supported, also financially, by these players, who are convinced that rolling out a generic ISO CoC standard will effectively reduce complexity, costs and unnecessary use of time.
By joining a national mirror committee (NEN, AFNOR, ANSI etc.), you can actively influence and contribute to the process of developing a standard. It also means that you will be the first to know about new developments, you can share and acquire knowledge and you will gain access to a large (international) network.
We ask all interested stakeholders to contact their respective national standardization institutes to actively participate in this new field of work.
Benefits of ISO CoC standard
- Applicable to all sectors, raw materials and issues
- Terms and definitions based on ISO language
- Modular use of related standards
- Based on available best practices
- Specific CoC requirements for individual supply chain actors
- Horizontal and generic benchmark
For more information
If you are interested in working actively at national or international level on developing the new horizontal standard for Chain of Custody, please contact Juliane Eykelhoff, NEN consultant: +31 (0)152 690 326
Visit the website of ISO for more information.
FAQ's about Chain of Custody
- Why is Chain of Custody so important?
- There are already many sector specific certification schemes in the world – why did you feel it was necessary to put together an ISO PC and what will an ISO standard add?
- What kind of organizations are involved in the ISO/PC308?
- What standards or projects do you have in the pipeline?
- What kind of organizations will benefit?
Interest of CoC to Stakeholders
International standards with harmonized definitions considerably reduce the duplication of work.
A horizontal ISO Chain of Custody standard is an effective solution to the problems that supply chain actors are faced with today when complying with many different CoC systems/definitions.
Each type of stakeholder has a specific interest in the effect of this solution.
The following stakeholders support the proposal for developing a generic ISO Chain of Custody standard and are committed to actively participate in the work.
Also for investors, a CoC standard has great benefits, since they need to get insight into the supply chain risks of the companies and sectors they invest in.
André Jakobs (ABN AMRO) expects that “companies will have to make their chains of custody transparent within the reporting requirements of the European Commission. This will be applicable for all products, not only commodities (e.g. transparency benchmark Ministry of Economic Affairs)
Manufacturers and traders
End product manufacturers and traders delivering to manufacturers have to comply with an increasing variety of systems required by their customers, leading to unnecessarily high administrative costs and time investment.
For members from the Dutch food industry, a CoC standard with unified demands and criteria is of utmost importance. Such standard enhances international trade and diminishes export barriers which are preferred over national legislation different for each country
Retailers who sell consumer products have to dedicate considerable efforts to assess the reliability of chain traceability. Even if only required for a selection of components in a selection of their retail assortment. This has become unnecessarily complex because of the existence of various certification schemes, self-assessments and verification schemes that tend to use mutually conflicting CoC definitions. The result is more paperwork in the company and higher costs than strictly required.
The objective is to simplify chain of custody compliancy evaluation for the industry as all certification systems will be able to use the generic ISO Chain of Custody standard as a basis.
The initiative to formulate this horizontal ISO standard has been taken by NEN in close cooperation with the Dutch government. The complexity and resulting additional costs of various CoC standards are a barrier to market access, especially for smaller companies and developing countries.
To better address the current market demand for increased transparency and the role of the horizontal CoC standard in simplifying market access by a uniform language. This will be relevant especially for involving developing countries in international trade.
There are costs associated with standard setting and certification organizations. When setting up the CoC component, the organisations will not lose valuable time to produce systems and definitions that eventually are almost identical to existing systems.
"We administer a certification scheme for safe and responsible animal food. We are great advocates of standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 22000 and HACCP. A harmonized standard for CoC would be a welcome addition due to the different interpretations on the market"