2022-01-05_12h27_26© FSS

About the FSS

Food security is a human right. Hunger and malnutrition persist in many countries of the Global South producing agricultural commodities for global markets. The Food Security Standard helps companies involved in such agricultural production chains to fulfil their social responsibilities and comply with mandatory due diligence.

What is the FSS?

The FSS is designed to be integrated in any existing sustainability standard in the agricultural sector and is applicable to all agricultural products, farm sizes and business types. The FSS is rooted in the Human Right to adequate Food.
It is structured according to the Right to Food Guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The Food Security Standard …

  • helps protect the Human Right to adequate food;
  • contributes directly or indirectly to the achievement of numerous UN Sustainable Development Goals such as: No Hunger (SDG 2), Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Less Inequality (SDG 10), Quality Education (SDG 4), Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3), No Poverty (SDG 1), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6);
  • closes an existing gap in sustainability standards;
  • helps companies fulfil their responsibilities with respect to food security and comply with mandatory due diligence;
  • is applicable in a wide variety of contexts and to all agricultural products;
  • contains field-tested and quantifiable criteria;
  • can be integrated into existing sustainability standards;
  • has the support of respected certification systems. Among the first implementers were 4C Services (coffee) and ISCC (all kinds of biomass).

Why do we need the FSS?

The World Food Programme Hunger Map for 2021 depicts the prevalence of undernourishment in the population of each country in 2018–20. Click on plus to increase the size. Click here to learn more about the interactve Hunger Map.

Why do we need the FSS?

Globally, 811 million people are going hungry and over two billion are malnourished. The majority of the hungry people live in rural areas and are often smallholders or landless labourers.

Smallholders and workers involved in agricultural supply chains often experience food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. Especially temporary and casual workers are very often affected by food insecurity and malnutrition even during their time of employment.

Up to now, food security has been seldom addressed in sustainability standards and certification schemes. The Food Security Standard (FSS) closes this gap. It provides a set of practicable and measurable criteria and audit tools that can be incorporated into sustainability standards and certification schemes.

The realization of the human right to food and the right to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) in the long term, is closely linked to the protection of other human rights. These are also addressed by the FSS, which makes it a suitable instrument for comprehensively ensuring corporate due diligence. It helps companies to fulfil their responsibility for food security, to comply with the mandatory due diligence and to contribute to SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).

How the FSS works

The FSS is designed for implementation and verification within the framework of a sustainability standards system. It is not a standalone system but complementing an existing standard and is therefore easy to integrate.

Sustainability standard systems can integrate the FSS as part of their standards or offer the FSS as an add-on. The verification of the FSS criteria takes place during the audit of the sustainability standard system. This minimizes both effort and costs.

On the homepages of already FSS recognised standards such as 4C Services or ISCC you will find exemplary information on how an FSS implementation could look like.

Sustainability standards, certification systems and certification bodies that want to offer the FSS or integrate it into their existing set of criteria have access to all necessary tools ranging from a comprehensive handbook and extensive training materials to a variety of checklists and interview guidelines. These tools are tailored to the specific circumstances of small-scale farms, mid-sized operations or plantations. They can also be used by companies to prepare for the implementation of FSS.

How to get certified? Find out more in our latest explanatory video on the step by step guidance to FSS certification.

Food Security Standard

  • Criteria and Indicators
  • Food security assessment tools
  • Checklist and handbook for auditors

Existing sustainability standards

Right to food respected in agricultural production

FSS Benefits

about-3 © FSS
about-4 © Nilotpal Kalita / Unsplash
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about-6 © Eduardo Soares / Unsplash

Farmers, workers and local communities

  • Farmers and workers are food secure and their Right to adequate Food is respected
  • Food security in the area of influence of an agricultural operation does not deteriorate
  • Food security gradually improves and reduces local inequalities (SDG 10)
  • Well-being of smallholders and workers increases

Producers of agricultural goods

  • Right to adequate food is protected by producers as much as it is their responsibility
  • Compliance with social standards contributes to better working conditions and thus also to improved production conditions and on the right to decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).
  • Higher resilience of the operation against hazards (natural, man-made)


  • Prove that all reasonable precautions and due diligence were applied to avoid committing an offence of the Human Right to Food
  • Mitigation of reputational risks
  • Competitive advantage
  • Compliance with upcoming due diligence legislation at national and EU level (contribution to SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth)


  • Increasing concerns for socially viable production conditions are addressed
  • Can opt for products that are also sustainable regarding food security and thus contribute to SDG 12 "Sustainable consumption".
“Many farm workers and small-scale farmers who grow food and agricultural goods for export to Europe are going hungry and their human rights are being violated. The FSS ensures the food security of farmers and workers while protecting nearby communities from the negative effects of export production.”Tina Beuchelt, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
© Jordan Whitfield / Unsplash