As a follow-up to this drive for quality, two years later, in 1999, the SYSTECODE International Certification system was introduced. Its objective? To certify cork stopper manufacturers that comply with the regulations of the International Code of Cork Stopper Manufacturing Practice. In the year2000, under the 1st SYSTECODE, 87 Portuguese companies were certified. In 2001, this number increased to 143 and, by 2002, 218 Portuguese companies had received certification. In 2003 and 2004, the numbers grew to 249 and 274, respectively. About 90% of these companies are APCOR members. Currently, the ICCSMP and the resulting SYSTECODE certification are among the most important modernizing factors at the heart of the cork industry. They require companies to subscribe to the most advanced production techniques, in addition to demanding extensive and detailed knowledge of materials and strict compliance with environmental regulations and occupational safety and health regulations. The SYSTECODE is a guarantee of quality and reliability, with an outcome that the market has already began to feel and taste in wines bottled since 2001.
For further information, see the site www.celiege.com
In this field, there are also Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points or HACCP, a complex food safety analysis system which, when implemented, controls quality and hygiene during food processing (production, packaging, etc.). Following up on the publication of various international standards and directives in respect of this question which began to gain great importance in the 1950s, the first Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System were drawn up by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1991 (revised in 1993 and in 1999). Since cork stoppers are in direct contact with a foodstuff – wine – the mandatory application of the HACCP system since 1998 has greatly increased the level of hygiene during the bottling process.
For further information: HACCP
ISO standard - In addition to the ICCSMP and its accreditation system, Systecode, which requires companies to adapt their practices in the light of food safety regulations and indications, there are many companies that have made use of various other food certification systems to strengthen the practices already stipulated.
The number of companies certified is:
- ISO 9001(quality): 40
- ISO 22000 (food safety): 5
- ISO 14001(environment): 4
The most recent food safety certification in the cork industry is ISO 22000:2005, to which the Portuguese Certification Association (APCER) has already certified a company from the sector. It is to be noted that the first company in Portugal to be certified to this standard was a cork company, which demonstrates the concern of the sector with compliance with food safety regulations.