fss-c1© Audra Melton, WWF-US

FSS Certification

Globally 828 million people are going hungry, at least 80 per cent of them live on agriculture in the rural regions of the global south. Additionally, 2 billion suffer from malnutrition.

Why hunger and the Right to Food matter

828 million people suffer from hunger, at least 80 per cent of them live on agriculture in the rural regions of the global south (FAO)

But there is enough food for all. And what’s more, food security is a human right. Global agricultural supply chains can only be considered sustainable if farmers and workers are food secure. The application of the FSS ensures that sustainability certified production sites also meet the requirements in terms of food security.

Compliance with the FSS also demonstrates that
→ Sustainable Development Goal 2 “Zero Hunger” is being addressed appropriately in agricultural production.

Source: WPF 2015, Hungry people in rural areas
© Kai Loeffelbein / Welthungerhilfe

The Human Right to Food

According to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing…” (United Nations, 1948).

As part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the state parties recognized the “right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food”, as well as the “fundamental right to be free from hunger”.

These international treaties also lay the foundations for the  corporate due diligence legislative initiatives.

How to get certified? Learn how to achieve FSS certification step by step in our latest explanatory video.


What is food security?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

The four pillars of food security are:
availability, stability of supply, access and utilization (FAO, 2004).

The Four Pillars of Food Security



There is a reliable and consistent source of quality food.



People have sufficient resources to produce and/or purchase food.



People’s ability to access and utilize food that remains stable and sustained over time.



Knowledge and basic sanitary conditions to choose, prepare and distribute food.

The Right to Food Guidelines – core of the FSS

  • The → Right to Food Guidelines are a practical tool to help implement the right to adequate food.
  • The Guidelines are not legally binding but adopted by all members of the UN in 2004 (FAO Council).
  • The responsibility is primarily of the individual states, but the international community, the private sector and all the members of civil society are called upon to collaborate in working towards the realization of the Right to adequate Food.
  • The Voluntary Guidelines cover the full range of actions to be considered in order to build an enabling environment for people to feed themselves in dignity. This encompasses the adoption of relevant strategies and policies, implementing legal frameworks, guaranteeing on the market the availability of food which is adequate and healthy, providing extra support for vulnerable populations and being prepared for emergencies, man-made or natural disasters.

The Principles and Criteria of the FSS are based on these Right to adequate Food Guidelines.

FSS Principles and Criteria

The FSS principles, criteria and indicators are based on the Human Right to adequate Food. Therefore, they don’t raise the bar, but show that a company respects this right in the supply chain.
The FSS is intended for use in combination with well-recognized sustainability standards. The vast majority of standards do not cover food security. Of course, several FSS Criteria are already part of demanding standards. Others are new or complement existing criteria. If all FSS Criteria and Indicators are fulfilled, a farm or a group of farms is considered to respect the right to food at the local level.

The FSS is organized into five pillars: The four pillars of food security and a fifth pillar in order to address additional cross- cutting aspects contained in the Right to Food Guidelines. The pillars are further specified through 17 principles. These principles are partially interrelated and can contribute to substantiating more than one pillar. However, for practical purposes, each principle is allocated to a single pillar.

To ensure that people are always able to access sufficient and healthy food, factors like appropriate wages and acceptable working conditions are just as important as basic education, basic healthcare, and the rule of law. The same applies to access to safe water and to the sustainable use of natural resources. These principles are operationalized through one or several criteria. The criteria describe requirements that must be fulfilled to ensure the right to food is respected within the field of responsibility of a farm operation. The indicators are used to demonstrate that a criterion is fulfilled.

The Food Security Standard is

  • Proven and recognized set of food security criteria and indicators that can be adopted by any sustainability standard/certification system
  • Suitable for different agricultural commodities and different uses (food, feed, energy, bio-based materials)
  • Suitable for plantations and smallholder farmers

→ Read more about our Principles and Criteria



  • 1. Apply good governance and respect the rule of law
  • 2. Respect national food security and development strategies
  • 3. Mitigate natural and human-made disaster risks


  • 4. Ensure market access and contribute to local development
  • 5. Safeguard long-term farm profitability and fair business conduct
  • 6. Respect labour rights and ensure good working conditions
  • 7. Provide training and capacity building
  • 8. Offer social safety nets


  • 9. Respect land rights
  • 10. Respect water rights and ensure that water quality and availability are maintained or improved
  • 11. Implement sustainable agricultural practices


  • 12. Provide a setting for the safe utilization of food
  • 13. Guarantee good nutrition


  • 14. Provide complaint and grievance mechanisms
  • 15. Respect women’s rights and ensure gender equity
  • 16. Raise awareness for nutrition and support child education
  • 17. Assess and monitor local food security


What we offer

What we offer

We offer all the services needed for a successful certification with the FSS. In addition, we offer a stepwise approach to FSS certification for those users for whom the implementation of all requirements is more challenging (FOSSEM). We are there to provide advice and support for all actors involved in agricultural value chains – from small-scale farmers to global sustainability standards.

It is also our task to confirm the correct application of the FSS and to deliver the recognition documents. Agricultural value chains are diverse and complex and therefore require individual, tailor-made solutions.

With already recognized standards like 4 C Services or ISCC , value chains like coffee or palm oil can already be aditionally certified agains the FSS to strengthen food security on a global scale.

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

  • Customized introduction to the FSS
  • Provision of the FSS tools (manual, checklists, interview guidelines)
  • Benchmarking of the FSS with the standard
  • Advice on the integration of the FSS into the standard or as an add on
  • Issue of FSS Recognition

  • Customized introduction to the FSS
  • FSS Auditor Trainings
  • Issue of FSS Auditor Attestation
  • Advice on the integration of the FSS into audit planning
  • Provision of all necessary tools (specific to plantations or smallholders)
  • Guidance during the implementation of the audits

  • Customized introduction to the FSS
  • Advice on the incorporation of the FSS into the corporate sustainability strategy
  • Advice on product-specific requirements for FSS certification

  • Customized introduction to the FSS
  • Support in all steps towards FSS compliance
  • Implementation of FSS-specific internal audits
  • Development of approaches to close gaps
“A company can only be
successful if its growth
benefits local communities.”
Lely Antelo Melgar, Aguaí
© Gerson Cifuentes / Unsplash