Safety is the top priority in the food industry, not just for consumers but also for the companies that manufacture or process it. For products to be safe and of high quality, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers must adhere to the highest safety standards. Through modern technologies, digitalization, and scientific advances, the industry has made significant improvements to food safety. However, many challenges remain.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) was created in 1992 to assist the food industry in coping with these changes and complying with UK and EU food safety laws. Since then, the BRC Global Standards (BRCGS) has become a global reference in safety and quality standards programs.
What are the BRCGS standards?
BRC Global Standards is a leading safety and quality certification program for food products. Originally the standards were developed by the British Retail Consortium, a trade association representing the UK retail industry, and in 2016 the BRC standards were acquired by the LGC group. The BRC Global Standards has become a widely recognized and respected food safety certification program, with over 30,000 certified sites in more than 130 countries.
BRC Standards cover a wide range of food safety and quality issues, including food safety management systems, product safety, packaging, storage and distribution. British Retail Consortium (BRC) rebranded as BRCGS (Brand Reputation through Compliance of Global Standards) in 2019.
The standards are regularly updated to ensure they remain relevant and effective. The BRC has recently released the latest version of their auditing code, Issue 9. It was published on 01 August 2022 and audits in accordance with it began on February 1st, 2023. It covers 9 sections which represent the series of the requirement for the BRC certification: Senior Management Commitment, The Food Safety Plan – HACCP, Food Safety and Quality Management System, Site Standards, Product Control, Process Control, Personnel, High-Risk, High-Care and Ambient High-Care Production Risk Zones and Requirements for Traded Products.
Adopting BRC Standards
The BRC program has helped improve the safety and quality of food products by setting high standards, reducing the risk of food safety incidents and ensuring that certified sites comply with them. BRC certification has become a requirement for many retailers and suppliers, which has helped to raise the bar for food safety across the industry. Also, in the event of a food safety incident, certified sites are required to have a recall plan in place, which helps to minimize the impact on consumers.
Therefore there are a few main reasons why you should adopt the BRC Standards:
- Compliance: Adopting BRC Standards helps organizations comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to food safety.
- Competitive Advantage: BRC certification can give organizations a competitive advantage by demonstrating their commitment to food safety and quality.
- Improved Reputation: BRC certification can help organizations improve their reputation by demonstrating that they meet the highest safety and quality standards.
- Reduced Risk: Adopting BRC Standards can help organizations reduce the risk of food safety incidents, which can result in costly recalls, legal action, and damage to reputation.
What to expect from a BRC Audit?
A BRC audit evaluates a company’s compliance with the BRC Global Standards. It is an independent assessment of the food safety management system, processes, and procedures for the organization.
An audit involves reviewing a company’s facilities, production processes, records, documentation and quality control systems in detail by a third-party accredited agent. As BRC audits are created according to risk, the level of scrutiny depends on the level of risk posed by the certified site. BRC certification requires a re-certification every six or twelve months, depending on the level of qualification obtained. There are several key components of BRC audits:
Documentation Review: This involves reviewing the certified site’s documentation, including policies, procedures, and records, to ensure they are in compliance with BRC Standards.
Site Inspection: This involves inspecting the certified site to ensure that it is clean, hygienic, and safe.
Employee Interviews: This involves interviewing employees to ensure they are aware of and following BRC Standards.
Product Testing: This involves testing products to ensure they meet BRC Standards.
The most common types of BRC audits are below:
How to prepare your BRC certification with regular internal audits
To ensure that your organization complies with the food safety and quality standards required for the BRC certification, you will need to conduct regular self-assessments. The use of an auditing app for your internal audits offers several benefits over traditional paper-based checklists. By streamlining your inspections with GoAudits you ensure the highest standards in every area and every day, without the paperwork and extra admin workload.
Using GoAudits for digital BRC audits, auditors can conduct audits more efficiently and effectively. GoAudits function perfectly on any electronic device such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones (iOS or Android) saving valuable time and reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies.
“Spend time where it matters. GoAudits has allowed us to spend 95% of our time where it matters – watching the floor and coaching the team, rather than filling forms and preparing reports. Seeing historical data without digging out and comparing past reports, has helped us spot trends & issues.” – said Jason Hunt – Domino’s
Digital inspections with GoAudits also increase transparency and accountability. All results, images and comments are automatically bundled in a digital report. Auditors can provide real-time updates and communicate with the team and management more easily.
This can help to build trust and confidence in the audit process and ensure that all parties have access to the same information. Read more about how our clients use GoAudits to comply with the safety regulations in this case study.
Free BRC Audit Checklists
You can start by checking out the free BRC audit checklists from the GoAudits library:
- Food Safety Hygiene Checklist
- BRC Management Commitment Checklist (Clause 1)
- BRC Food Safety Plan HACCP Checklist (Clause 2)
- BRC Food Safety & Quality Management System Checklist (Clause 3)
- BRC Audit Site Standards Checklist (Clause 4)
- BRC Audi Product Control Checklist (Clause 5)
- BRC Audit Process Control Checklist(Clause 6)
- BRC Personnel Checklist (Clause 7)
- BRC Production Risk Zones Checklist (Clause 8)
- BRC Audit Traded Products Checklist (Clause 9)
For more food safety FREE CHECKLISTS check our complete library here.