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STANDARDS IN FOCUS



The second-hand market gets a new ISO standard to protect consumers

By Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis on 15 December 2017


The second-hand economy is booming with more and more consumers buying used goods. How can we be sure that the second-hand baby crib we buy won’t cause injury or harm? Purchasing used products can bring its share of bad surprises, but a new International Standard helps make sure those hand-me-down treasures are not putting your family in danger.
They say forewarned is forearmed. This is particularly true of the second-hand goods market where an informed consumer will make safer purchases. It is important to be aware of the potential risk of buying used items, and simple precautions apply to ensure you don’t get caught out.
Rae Dulmage, Chair of ISO project committee ISO/PC 245, Cross-border trade of second-hand goods, explains that a few smart questions can help you decide whether a product is worth buying. “What am I going to use it for? How long do I expect it to last? Don’t just take someone’s word for it,” he says, “check under the hood. Most importantly, buy from a reputable dealer who knows what he is selling. And apply the principles of ISO 20245.”
The newly published ISO 20245:2017, Cross-border trade of second-hand goods, provides a valuable point of reference for governments as they intensify their efforts to establish minimum screening criteria for the trade of second-hand goods across borders. It is the world’s first International Standard on goods that are traded, sold, donated or exchanged between countries. This is important as it helps regulate an unruly market and diverts thousands of tonnes of unwanted materials away from our landfills.
In Canada, the market for used and second-hand goods grew last year to an estimated 29 billion Canadian dollars (CND), up from CND 1 billion the previous year, according to a 2017 report on the second-hand economy released by online classified ad Website Kijiji. And Canada is not alone.
Trade in second-hand goods continues to grow every year, particularly in developing countries and countries with transitional economies. End users purchasing these products expect them to be safe, free from defects, and to last for a reasonable amount of time, even in their second-hand state.
Just like any factory-bought product, used goods should meet the expectations of a reasonable consumer, who has full knowledge of their second-hand status. This means they must fulfil acceptance criteria in terms of quality, product information and usage requirements, with additional details about their condition.
The new ISO 20245 specifies how to evaluate and classify products on a ranking based on their condition: A (very good), B (good), C (fair), and D (poor). These measurable criteria are destined to be used by importing or exporting parties or governments for in-transit and port-of-entry screening of second-hand goods, and will ensure that both consumers and the environment are protected.
Rae Dulmage hopes that second-hand goods practices contained in ISO 20245 will become universally applicable and available. “If countries enforce ISO 20245 requirements as part of their import regulations, organizations integrate them in their purchasing and processing practices, and charities make them a common feature of their operations, unsafe and unreliable products will gradually be eliminated from the market and disposed of in the proper way.”
And as for consumers, he says, ISO 20245 will help ensure they get safe and serviceable second-hand goods that provide value for money.
ISO 20245:2017 was developed by ISO project committee ISO/PC 245, Cross-border trade of second-hand goods. The Chair is currently held by SCC, ISO member for Canada, under a twinning arrangement with SAC, ISO member for China, which holds the secretariat.

What makes a food ingredient “natural”?
By Sandrine Tranchard on 18 December 2017


When is a food ingredient considered as “natural”? Until now, there was no internationally agreed definition of a “natural” food ingredient, but a new ISO technical specification will help the food and beverage industry players speak the same language.
Despite enormous consumer interest for all things “natural”, what actually constitutes a “natural” food ingredient has long been up for debate. Except for a few attempts by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the late 1990s, there have been no internationally agreed requirements in terms of natural food ingredients and food processes – that is, until the advent of technical specification ISO/TS 19657:2017, Definitions and technical criteria for food ingredients to be considered as natural.
The purpose of this document is to provide the necessary criteria for food ingredients to be considered as “natural”, which the food and beverage industry and public authorities can universally refer to at a time when goods are traded freely around the world.
In some regions of the globe, the absence of such criteria has even led to lawsuits. The new ISO/TS 19657 therefore proposes criteria for business-to-business communications on food ingredients that are considered as “natural”, helping to level the playing field and secure fair business practices within the food and beverage industry. The document doesn’t apply to product communication to consumers, such as package labellings.
Dominique Taeymans, Convenor of the working group that developed the technical specification, explains: “This technical specification contains the basic guidelines that will allow food and beverage industry professionals to speak the same language. This is not a straightforward subject, so giving professionals a common basis to fall back on is already a big step forward.”
ISO/TS 19657 addresses the needs of all food and beverage companies and food ingredients manufacturers, regardless of their size and complexity. This document will help to ensure fair practices in all business relationships.
ISO/TS 19657:2017 was developed by ISO/TC 34, Food products, under its working group 18, Natural food ingredients.

Cocoa fever – the food of the gods gets a quality check
By Clare Naden on 19 December 2017


It is one of the world’s favourite ingredients, particularly during the festive season, yet no two cocoa beans are the same. ISO’s International Standard for cocoa quality has recently been updated, just in time to make Santa’s visits a little sweeter.
We all know that chocolate is good for heart and soul, but did you know that it all starts with the humble cocoa bean? Largely cultivated by some 14 million hard-working cocoa workers in countries around the equator, on typically smallholder farms, cocoa is difficult to grow and most farms experience low yields.
Yet with the developed world’s taste for the sweet stuff never ceasing to increase, ensuring that the quality of the cocoa bean is internationally agreed has never been more important.
ISO 2451, Cocoa beans – Specification and quality requirements, does just that, by specifying the requirements, classification, sampling, test methods, packing and marking of cocoa beans, with additional recommendations related to storage and disinfestation. It covers everything from size and colour, to moisture content, preparation and classification of the beans.
The new standard was developed by ISO’s technical committee for cocoa, ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 18, Cocoa, whose secretariat is jointly held by GSA, ISO’s member for Ghana, and NEN, ISO’s member for the Netherlands.
MacMillan Prentice, Co-Secretary of ISO/TC 34/SC 18, says ISO 2451 was updated to harmonize the language, requirements and grading of cocoa bean quality across the cocoa world and to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to effectively test for such quality. “It was developed by a broad group of stakeholders, including representatives from the private sector and governments, with the objective that it will help to further facilitate international trade.”
ISO/TC 34/SC 18, in cooperation with technical committee CEN/TC 415, Sustainable and traceable cocoa, of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), is also responsible for the development of the series ISO 34101, Sustainable and traceable cocoa, which consists of four parts on sustainability management systems, performance, traceability and certification schemes.

 

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