BRC Food Safety

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BRC internal audit
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module 11

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety

The BRC Food Safety standard is one of the standards recognised by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), which means it’s recognised worldwide as it has met the benchmark criteria set by the GFSI.  The BRC Food Safety standard was updated to issue 7 in January 2015 and audits have been conducted to this issue since July 2015.  The standard covers food safety, but also quality and legality – to ensure that the manufacturer meets the legislation in the country or countries that its products are sold and also meets their customer specifications and standards.  The BRC Food Safety standard is made up of 7 sections; management commitment, HACCP, food safety and quality management, site standards, process control, product control and personnel.  The audit covers systems as well as GMP (good manufacturing practise) and therefore half of the audit is paper based and half of the audit is carried out in the factory.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the changes from version 6 to version 7?
Is the food standard right for me?
My customers want BRC and I’ve not been accredited to a standard before – what do I do?
My customers want BRC and I’ve already got SALSA – what do I do?
What are modules?
What are certification bodies?
How long is an audit?
Do I organise my audit with BRC directly?
How do I find a certification body to do my audit?
How much is an audit?
How do I know what the scope of my audit is?
Can I exclude products or parts of the factory from the scope of our audit?
What is a statement of intent?
What are fundamentals?
How do you go about organising an audit?
Can I do the audit as soon as I have documented and implemented my systems?
Do I need to have a pre-audit?
What happens after the audit?
How is the audit scored?
How often will I be audited?

If your question is not answered here – please don’t despair, use our contact form and ask us what you need to know – contact form.

 

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What are the changes from V6 to V7?

As with every new issue of the standard, BRC raised the bar and issue 7 now includes additional requirements – the main ones being:

  • raw material vulnerability assessment, for food fraud
  • improving the assessment and monitoring of raw material suppliers traceability systems
  • that where agents and brokers are used, the supplier assessment must be of the manufacturer not the agent or broker, unless the agent or broker has a BRC Global Standards certificate for Agents & Brokers
  • improvements in labelled pack control on line to ensure the right product goes in the right pack
  • additional auditor checks of labelling to try to reduce the number of labelling errors
  • the ‘Customer Focus’ section returns to issue 7, so customer standards can be included in the audit
  • additional requirements on the controls for surplus food products
  • new zone and requirements for ‘ambient high-care’

We recently wrote a blog on the things you need to check before you have your version 7 audit, check it out here – 58 Points to check before your BRC V7 audit.

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Is the food standard right for me?

Most manufacturers do not ‘choose’ to go for the BRC certificate – it’s a requirement of all of the major retailers that a supplier must have BRC. Many other customers, such as wholesalers, agents & brokers and food service chains also require BRC as a minimum in order to supply to them.

Going for BRC Food Safety is not easy, especially if you’ve not been accredited to something like the SALSA standard before. We would recommend if you’re a small business and not being pushed by your customers to do BRC, that you go for the SALSA standard first as it’s designed specifically for smaller and artisan businesses. You can read about SALSA here.

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My customers want BRC and I’ve not been accredited to a standard before – what do I do?

If you need to go straight for BRC Food Safety because your customer has told you to, you need to know – it’s a big, big jump! The BRC is a detailed standard which requires a lot of extra paperwork and controls to be put in place. It’s not an easy standard to implement, but, we try make it as easy and straight forward for you as we can! Our QMS documentation packs will be a massive help to you and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the standard. Give us a call on 07955 211023 or email info@techni-k.co.uk

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My customers want BRC and I’ve already got SALSA – what do I do?

If you’ve already got SALSA in place, that’s great – because you’ll be used to following procedures and recording what you do as evidence. It will make it much easier to make that jump to BRC. But please be aware, the BRC Food Safety standard is much, much more detailed than SALSA – you’ll need add it a lot more procedures and controls and you have to record everything. If you have SALSA in place, you’ll need to upgrade your quality management system so it meets BRC. Our advice would be to use our BRC Food QMS pack, as it will save you a lot of time trying to bridge the gap in your current system between SALSA and BRC. Give us a call on 07955 211023 or email info@techni-k.co.uk and we can talk it through with you.

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What are modules?

Modules have been developed by the BRC in conjunction with other parties, to help to bridge the gap between the BRC standard and the more detailed or specific customer standards. The main aim of this is to try to reduce the number of customer audits on manufacturers – by allowing the manufacturer to have one BRC audit, with a bolt on module to cover customer requirements.

The other benefit of having bolt on modules, is that the BRC can amend the content of the standard at any time by adding a module. This will allow faster implementation of requirements, rather than having to wait for a full review of the standard (which usually happens every 3 years).

The modules that are currently available are:

  • Module 8 Traded Goods
  • Module 9 Management of Food Materials for Animal Feed
  • Module 10 Global G.A.P Chain of Custody

Unfortunately, these modules are only available on-line through the BRC Participate scheme. If you need any particular help or advice on any of the above modules, please get in touch and we’ll try to help you.

There are also additional retailer modules, such as Asda, but these are not publicly available – to get a copy you need to contact your retailer/customer directly.

Note – the numbering of the modules starts at 8, to follow on from the 7 sections of the BRC Food Safety standard.

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What are certification bodies?

A certification body is a third party that carries out your BRC audit. In order for a certification body to be allowed to carry out your BRC audit, they must be approved by the BRC and as a minimum have SIO/IEC 17065 accreditation.

The BRC assesses these certification bodies to ensure that they meet their requirements on an ongoing basis. In doing so, the certification body gets a star rating.

You can see the certification bodies approved by the BRC and their star ratings by going to https://www.brcdirectory.com/ and using the ‘Find a BRC Certification Body’ on the right hand side.

Please note, when choosing a certification body, the star rating won’t affect your grade or certificate in any way.

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How long is an audit?

This all depends on the size and complexity of your business. The BRC calculate the amount of time to which your audit should take by three factors, which are:

The number of full time workers, or their equivalent

  1. The number of HACCP plans you have (this is the number of different production processes, if you’ve chosen to do your HACCP plans by product type rather than process type be careful you’re not over counting here)
  2. The size of your production environment (do not count non production areas, as again this will over spec your audit)

A typical site of up to 50 full time workers, up to 3 HACCP plans and a production environment of less than 10,000m2, will require a 2 day audit of 8 hours each day, of which at least 8 hours must be spent in the factory.
BRC provide an audit calculator to help you assess how long your audit will be, you can get a copy of the calculator here. – BRC audit calculator.

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Do I organise my audit with BRC directly?

No, you need to choose a certification body who will do the audit. To choose a certification body and learn more about them – see our ‘What are certification bodies’ answer.

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How do I find a certification body to do my audit?

To find a certification body which is approved by the BRC, go to the BRC Directory and use the ‘Find a BRC Certification Body’ on the right hand side.

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How much is an audit?

The cost of an audit can vary massively depending on the certification body that you choose and also depending on the expenses that the certification body would charge.

They all work out the cost based on a day rate, which can vary from about £850 a day to about £1,100 a day. The number of days that you need would be based on the BRC audit calculator – for more information on this see our ‘How long is an audit’ answer.

The certification body would also charge you for travel expenses to your site and also any overnight accommodation costs, such as hotels.

Plus, you’d need to add the cost of VAT as well. So, as an estimate based on a typical 2-day audit with a mid-range day rate, you’re probably looking at about £2,600 including VAT.

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How do I know what the scope of my audit is?

Before you have your audit you need to let your certification body know the scope of your audit. They will normally do this by asking you to complete a set of forms. The scope must cover all the products produced, the production method(s) and the packing format(s). The scope will go on your certificate and so, the purpose of it, is so that your customers can check it to make sure that the product they are taking from you has been covered in the audit.

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Can I exclude products or parts of the factory from the scope of our audit?

There are strict rules about this. The first thing you need to know is that if you exclude any products or parts of the factory from your audit you cannot use the BRC logo on any of your promotional material. You can only exclude products if the excluded products can be clearly defined in your scope, so it’s clear that they have not been included AND that the products are produced in a part of the factory that is physically segregated (i.e. through walls).

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What is a statement of intent?

You’ll see at the top of each section of the standard there is some text in a green box – this is the statement of intent. The statement of intent is a description of what compliance to that section of the standard would look like. Failure to comply with the statement of intent may result in a major non-conformance, so they’re important.

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What are fundamentals?

There are 12 fundamentals for the food standard which are:

  1. Senior management commitment and continual improvement (1.1)
  2. The food safety plan – HACCP (2)
  3. Internal audits (3.4)
  4. Management of suppliers of raw materials and packaging (3.5.1)
  5. Corrective and preventive actions (3.7)
  6. Traceability (3.9)
  7. Layout, product flow and segregation (4.3)
  8. Housekeeping and hygiene (4.11)
  9. Management of allergens (5.3)
  10. Control of operations (6.1)
  11. Labelling and pack control (6.2)
  12. Training (7.1)

The fundamentals are the topics in the standard that BRC have defined as being crucial to ensuring that food safety, quality and legality are adhered to. Failure to meet the statement of intent of a fundamental, could mean that you fail your audit – so pay special attention to them!

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How do you go about organising an audit?

You need to contact your chosen certification body who will ask you to fill out a form, which will include information on the size and complexity of your business. You’ll then need to book a date and normally pay a proportion of the audit fee to secure the date.

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Can I do the audit as soon as I have documented and implemented my systems?

No, not straight away. You generally need between 8 and 12 weeks’ worth of records in order to be audited, this is so that your auditor can see that your systems have been implemented effectively and are working.

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Do I need to have a pre-audit?

No, you can go straight into the audit if you wish, but some sites decide they would like to do a practise run before the real thing. Please bear in mind though, certification bodies are not supposed to give advice and so you may find that they may not be able to tell you how to fix any of the problems that they pick up. At Techni-K we can help you prepare for your audit and can provide you with practical solutions on how to comply with the standard – if this is something that you need help with please get in touch on 07955 211023 or email us at info@techni-k.co.uk

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What happens after the audit?

Once the audit is complete you’ll have 28 days to provide evidence that you’ve closed out your non-conformances to root cause. The certification body will then check these and only once they are happy with the evidence you’ve provided; will they issue you with your certificate. Issuing of the certificate can take up to 42 days from the date of the audit.

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How is the audit scored?

Depending on how many non-conformances you get, you’ll either get an AA, A, B, C or D grade or a fail. If you have elected to have an unannounced audit, this is shown in your score as a ‘+’.
The score is based on how many minors, majors and critical(s) you get.
The scores are as follows:

AA is 5 or less minors

A is between 6 and 10 minors

B is between 11 and 16 minors, or 1 major and up to 10 minors

C is between 17 and 24 minors, or 1 major and up to 16 minors, or 2 majors and up to 10 minors

D is between 25 and 30 minors, or 1 major and up to 24 minors, or 2 majors and up to 16 minors

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How often will I be audited?

The frequency of your audit will depend on the grade of audit you achieve.  If you get a AA, AA+, B or a B+ you will be audited every 12 months.  If you get C or C+ you’ll be audited every 6 months.  If you get a D or D+ you’ll be audited every 6 months, but the certification body will also have to visit you within 28 days of your audit to close out your non-conformances with you as well.

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How can Techni-K help you with BRC?

At Techni-K our mission is to help manufacturers meet the standards by:
1. Providing solutions which are cost effective and do not require expensive consultancy bills
2. Providing solutions that take as much of the pain away as possible, that are simple to use and practical to implement

How do we do this?

We have developed a Quality Management System (QMS) to meet each of the food BRC Global Standards. Each QMS has been designed to meet all the clauses of the BRC Standard and provides you with a system that is 95% done for you. You just need to tailor it to meet your specific business needs, we’ve even provided you with instructions on how to do this. Then you just need to implement it into your business and again, we’ve provided you with tools and tips on how to do this!  We also offer phone and email support while you’re tailoring and implementing your QMS, so you’re not alone – we’re with you every step of the way!

Check out our solutions from the options below…