What does the ISO mark stand for on various products?

“Quality is the best business plan!”

It is a common belief among people, that the world is a mysterious place. For me, one such mystery of the world manifested in the form of a signboard of the neighbouring cake shop, which bears the letters ISO followed by a number of digits. After passing by this object of mystery for about fifteen years of my life, one day I decided to educate myself about the ISO. After some research, I realized that the ISO actually stands for the “International Organization for Standardization”. It is an international standard-setting body which consists of representatives from various national standards organizations. This organization promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards.

I was amazed to find out that the organization has set nearly twenty thousand standards, covering everything from manufactured products and technology to food safety, agriculture and healthcare. An ISO certification adds credibility to a certain company, by demonstrating that its product or service meets the expectations of the customers based on meeting of certain set criteria. For some industries, ISO certification is a legal or contractual requirement. An ISO certification ensures that an organization abides by international quality standards and thus the consumers are assured about the quality of the service received by them. Thus, it is important for firms to get an ISO certification so that they are easily trusted by customers.

However, it must be noted that the ISO does not perform certification, since it only develops international standards, it is not involved in their certification, and do not issue certificates. This is performed by external certification bodies. ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) has produced a number of standards related to the certification process, which are used by certification bodies. Thus, an ISO certification may be attained by applying for the certification through a national certification body, which uses the relevant CASCO standard. Applying for different types of certification involves different processes. The process of application also varies from agency to agency. Thus, it is important to choose the relevant certification that is required and the agency best suited for the job. Through this procedure, even new companies would have the credibility of established ones.

International Standards are the backbone of our society, ensuring the safety and quality of products and services, facilitating international trade and improving the environment in which we live in. So next time you don’t see this mark, do research further about the product before buying it!

(Picture created by Shilka Edakkara)