Custom Processing Services Blog

Toll Processor Certifications —Everything You Need To Know

Dev Testing, May 14, 2020 12:00:00 AM

Toll processors are valued for their experience in processing many materials for a large number of industries. They bring eye-opening insight, guidance for challenging circumstances, and solutions regarding material moisture content, size distribution, and quality control.

But, is every toll processor equally effective and valuable?

Of course not. Yet, how can you evaluate different toll processors when they all claim to be leaders, innovators, and full-service?

Exploring and scrutinizing a toll processor’s certifications is a great start. This article is your guide to the certifications any reputable toll processor should have. Here’s what you need to know.

cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices)

Okay, this one requires a quick explanation. GMP (without the “c”) is a set of quality assurance guidelines created and updated by the FDA that needs to be followed by manufacturers to ensure that food and pharmaceutical applications are completely safe for human use and consumption.

When you see cGMP (with the “c”), it acknowledges that good changes have occurred over time, so the certification is “current.” This is important because the FDA expects companies to continually improve standards by using the latest technology and techniques.

Both certifications mean that the products are pure (no errors or contaminations), and it also applies to the buildings/facilities, staff, equipment, raw materials, and production. Manufacturers choose the right software and processes for their needs and provide the internal systems to help with organization and accountability.

Recognized around the globe, cGMP certification means a company has invested in modern equipment and technology that tests and verifies the final product itself, resulting in greater purity and the latest quality assurance.

When you choose a toll processor that’s cGMP certified, you can be confident that they’re leveraging the latest available technology as well as checking for quality, effectiveness, and safety.

FSMA  (Food Safety Modernization Act) 

Signed into law in 2011, the FDA’s FSMA helps protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. Overall, it puts responsibility on the industry to prevent foodborne illnesses instead of reacting to them.

FSMA rules specify what actions must be taken at different points in the global supply chain to prevent contamination. The specific requirements for imported foods, food inspections, the transportation of foods, and compliance timelines include everything from a written food safety plan and a supply-chain program to preventive controls and corrective actions.

There are 7 major rules under FSMA:

  • Preventive Controls Rules for Human and Animal Food
  • Produce Safety Rule
  • Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) Rule
  • Accredited Third-Party Certification
  • Sanitary Transportation Rule
  • Intentional Adulteration Rule
  • Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP)

Needless to say, the sweeping FSMA completely changed how the industry approaches safety. Obviously, it’s reassuring to know that all safety guidelines are being met by your toll processor, and all necessary procedures and safety measures for compliance are being implemented.

PCO (PA Certified Organic)

Implemented by the USDA, PCO is an organic-certifying agency for growers and processors of organic crops, wild crops, and livestock. Following the National Organic Program’s regulations, the PCO oversees rules for the production, handling, and labeling of organic products and assists operations in complying with the regulations.

After a toll processor develops an organic system plan, the PCO sends a qualified organic inspector to perform an onsite evaluation of the organic operation. A plan update and an onsite inspection are required annually to continue the certification.

Having PCO certification is proof that a toll processor follows a prescribed system of organic food handling, protects the environment, and avoids toxic substances.

ISO 9001:2015

The world’s most prominent quality management system, ISO 9001 has issued more than 1.1 million certificates. These internationally recognized standards show customers that a toll processor is following relevant statutory and regulatory requirements, and has customers’ best interests in mind.

ISO 9001 follows 7 principles:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Engagement of people
  • Process approach
  • Improvement
  • Evidence-based decision making
  • Relationship management

These principles all converge on what should be one of a business’s primary goals: always improving products, services, and operations. Implementing ISO 9001 enhances the experiences of customers, employees, and suppliers as well as increases a company’s productivity and profits.

Specifically for toll processors, the certification should specify how that business designs and executes processing services of wet and dry materials — media milling, dispersing, micronizing, classification, pulverizing, crushing, screening, blending, surface modification, heat treating, reacting, drying, and packaging.


The Arabic word for “permissible,” Halal means the product is acceptable in accordance with Islamic law. That is, the certified product is from an acceptable source; for example, a cow or chicken slaughtered according to Islamic laws. The concept of “halal” is very similar to the Hebrew term “kosher” (see below).

Toll processors want to meet the needs of the approximately 2 billion Muslims around the world (4 million in the U.S. and growing). Offering Halal-certified products increases Muslim consumers’ confidence that a company’s products align with their culture and beliefs.

Halal certification includes 3 process steps:

  • Evaluation — the company explains the need for receiving Halal certification
  • Inspection — the plant(s) and processes go through an onsite inspection
  • Certification — if the first two are passed, the organization is granted certification


Similar to Halal, the word “Kashrus,” from the Hebrew root kosher, means “suitable” or “pure,” which ensures the product is fit for consumption. The related religious laws include comprehensive legislation concerning foods that are permitted and forbidden.

For a product to be considered kosher, all units and subunits must also be kosher. That directly affects toll processors and the blending, milling, packaging, etc. of ingredients.

During kosher certification, a rabbinic agency verifies a product’s ingredients, the facility (an audit of all processes), and each step in production. All ingredients, derivatives, and tools/machinery must have no trace of non-kosher substances.

When consumers see the kosher certified symbol, they know that both the actual product and its production meet all Kosher Law requirements. This international quality standard provides assurance to customers that the product is independently audited.

FSSC 22000

With more than 7,600 facilities certified worldwide, FSSC 22000 is a Food Safety Management Systems Certification scheme that provides assurance to customers that an organization has implemented an effective food safety plan and management system. The ISO developed this system based on the globally accepted quality management system ISO 9001 (see ISO 9001:2015 above).

FSSC 22000 defines requirements for integrated processes that work together to control and minimize food safety hazards. Toll processing customers know that the food safety management system processes meet the requirements of the standard.

Recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), FSSC 22000 is used to control both food safety risks and the costly, brand-damaging recalls of products. Having a standardized system for ensuring the integrity and safety of each link in the food chain is critical in order to ensure consumer protection. 

Searching for, and having discussions about, these certifications with potential toll processors is a good start to not only selecting a partner, but also establishing a long-term relationship.

Connect with CPS, “The Architects Of What’s Possible,” with your questions about certifications throughout the industry and with particular toll processors. Or simply give us a call at 610-779-7001.

By the way, do you know the difference between toll manufacturing and contract manufacturing? Understanding the differences could influence your product’s success or failure. Click the image below to access your copy of our helpful guide.

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Posted in:Toll Processing