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NABCB’s FSMS accreditation programme secures international equivalence
Friday, 11 July, 2014, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), India’s national accreditation body for certifying labs, has secured international equivalence for its accreditation programme for food safety management system (FSMS) certification bodies.

This signified that the accreditation of Food Safety Management System bodies by NABCB would now be accepted as internationally equivalent within the Asia Pacific region.

It signed the multi-lateral mutual recognition arrangement (MLA) of the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC) in Mexico in the annual plenary meeting of the PAC for its accreditation programme based on international standards, International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) 17021 and ISO 22003.

NABCB, a constituent board of the Quality Council of India (QCI), is responsible for the accreditation of certification/inspection bodies as per the applicable international standards under an international system of equivalence.

It is pertinent to mention that PAC is the association of accreditation bodies and other bodies interested in the field of management systems, product, services, personnel and other similar certification programmes in the Asia Pacific region. PAC is one of the five specialist bodies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

“The signing of the FSMS certification MLA followed a successful peer evaluation of NABCB by an international team, deputed by PAC, in November 2013, which concluded that NABCB was operating as per the international standard for accreditation bodies (ISO 17011) and was competent to evaluate certification bodies as per ISO 17021 and ISO 22003, applicable to certification bodies,” said Anil Jauhri, chief executive officer, NABCB.

He added that this was a step towards signing the MLA of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), which would confer worldwide equivalence to NABCB’s FSMS certification bodies’ accreditation programme.

NABCB has already secured international equivalence for its accreditation programmes for ISO 9001 certification bodies in 2002, ISO 14001 certification bodies in 2007 and product certification bodies (based on ISO 17065) and inspection bodies (based on ISO 17020) in 2013.

Jauhri elaborated, “Accreditation reduces the risk for businesses and their customers by assuring that accredited conformity assessment bodies (CAB) are competent to carry out the work they undertake within their scope of accreditation.”  
Accreditation Bodies (AB) that are members of PAC, and the CAB they accredit, are required to comply with appropriate international standards, and the applicable PAC application documents for the consistent application of those standards.

AB that are signatories to the PAC MLA are evaluated regularly by appointed teams of peers to provide confidence in the operation of their accreditation programmes.

Accreditation has become an essential tool for getting acceptance of inspection, testing and certification done in India internationally, and it is referenced in many bilateral free trade agreements like the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, in which NABCB accreditation is a requirement for certification of electrical/electronic and telecom products.

Thus, accreditation eliminates technical barriers to trade and facilitates export of Indian products in world market.

NABCB has currently accredited 15 certification bodies for FSMS and has six applicants, including the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution.

Now any food industry carrying ISO 22000 certificate with NABCB logo would be recognised in Asia Pacific region.

The immediate beneficiary of this equivalence is the Indian food industry, which is exporting products to various Asia Pacific countries.

It can also be used by regulators for establishing confidence in certified units. Further, India can demonstrate that it has a tool to ensure food safety to the countries where we are exporting food products based on international standards.

With the above, NABCB hoped to facilitate the export of Indian goods into the world market by attesting that these are certified as per international standards for the certifying bodies.
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