Finger on the pulse(s)

Five top ways standards make pulses even better on World Pulses Day.

Few minutes to read
By Clare Naden
Published on

They are good for the planet and they are good for you. Once considered a poor man’s food, pulses are coming back in vogue as they are not only highly nutritious, but their consumption contributes to a more sustainable world. 

Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and butter beans are just some of the pulses you may be familiar with, but in fact there are hundreds of different types around the world, with 77 varieties of chickpeas alone. Not only are they a healthy source of protein, they contribute to soil fertility and biodiversity, and reduce the need for greenhouse-gas-emitting fertilizers. What’s not to like?

ISO has many standards for pulses that help facilitate fair and equitable international trade and to ensure they make their way safely from the farm to the kitchen pot. Here are just a few:

Safely stored

ISO 6322, Storage of cereals and pulses, is just one example of many ISO food-storage standards that provide the technical guidelines for correct and safe storage, preventing post-harvest loss and improving the quality at the same time. It comes in three parts, one providing general recommendations for the keeping of cereals, another with some practical advice about storage and a third about how to control an attack of pests!

Free from invaders

Ensuring there are no little insects hiding between the grains in a stash of pulses is extremely important for food safety, which is why there is an ISO series of standards to help.

The four-part series ISO 6639, Cereals and pulses – Determination of hidden insect infestation, outlines all you need to know to detect the pesky critters. It includes general principles and sampling methods, as well as some quick ways to see if the product has been infested or not.

Keeping them clean

ISO also has a standard to ensure there is no contamination by any kind of unwanted element that is not covered in other standards.

ISO 605, Pulses – Determination of impurities, size, foreign odours, insects, and species and variety – Test methods, details a number of test methods and procedures for checking that pulses are free of contaminants and fit for consumption.

Measuring moisture

Pulses need to be correctly dried before processing or storage, as too much moisture can lead to spoiling.

ISO 24557, Pulses – Determination of moisture content – Air-oven method, is a handy tool as it provides internationally agreed guidelines on how to check moisture levels using an industry-standard method.

Managing food safety all the way

Having a food safety management system in place is the surest way to ensure no aspect of the handling of foods like pulses is overlooked.

ISO 22000, Food safety management systems – Requirements for any organization in the food chain, is one of the world’s most renowned International Standards for food chain safety. It provides everything the industry needs to know to manage risks in all areas of food production.

ISO has more than 1 600 standards related to the food sector. To find out more, see our dedicated free brochure. All of these standards can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.



ISO standards are developed by groups of experts within technical committees (TCs). TCs are made up of representatives from industry, non-governmental organizations, governments and other stakeholders who are put forward by ISO’s members. ISO subcommittee 4, Cereals and pulses, of technical committee 34, Food products, has over 60 standards dedicated to cereals and pulses, with a further nine in development. Its secretariat is held by SAC, ISO’s member for China. 

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