In this article we’re going to look at the new audit options that BRCGS have published.
It’s a little confusing, so let’s get one thing clear from the outset.
BRCGS have published an audit options infographic, that states that there are six options:
- Announced audit
- Unannounced audit
- Blended audit
- Certificate extension
- Remote audit
- COVID-19 additional module
The first three are audit options; announced, unannounced and blended.
The second three are options available due to COVID-19. The remote audit is not GFSI recognised and is only available where an on-site audit cannot go ahead due to COVID-19. We have covered these options in our previous article; COVID-19 BRCGS audit options.
Let’s look at the three audit options…
1. Announced audit
This is the current announced audit. The only thing that’s changed here is that in order to comply with GFSI, BRCGS are implementing the one-in-three unannounced rule.
This means that one out of every three audits that take place, must unannounced. The dates for implementation of this are as follows:
- February 2021 – Food and Packaging
- May 2021 – Storage & Distribution
This rule doesn’t apply to Agents & Brokers.
BRCGS did promise to publish a procedure back in August, which would explain how the one-in-three rule would be applied. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for this. The last update we had from them was on 10th September, to say that it would be published by week commencing 21st September at the latest.
As soon as we know more, we’ll share this with you.
2. Unannounced audit
There is no change to the current unannounced audit protocol.
3. Blended audit
A blended audit is a blend of an on-site audit and a remote audit. This type of audit is GFSI recognised. BRCGS have published a position statement that explains this option: BRCGS080 Procedure for Blended Audits-Remote Auditing using ICT.
An on-site audit looks at all the practical aspects of the operation. This part of the audit is carried out with the auditor at site, so they can look around the site.
The remote audit will look at all the documentation aspects of the operation. This part of the audit is carried out using IT systems, so that the auditor doesn’t need to be on site. The remote audit cannot be more than 50% of the allocated time for the overall audit.
A blended audit is only available for BRCGS Food Safety, BRCGS Packaging and BRCGS Storage & Distribution audits. The blended option isn’t applicable to the Agents & Brokers audit, because you can do this 100% remotely. What is confusing is that the 100% remote option for Agents & Brokers is covered in BRCGS080 Blended Audits document and NOT in the BRCGS086 Remote Audits. This means that BRCGS call a 100% remote audit for Agents & Brokers – a blended audit (confusing I know – sorry). That’s because BRCGS086 remote audits are only applicable for COVID-19.
You CAN’T have a blended audit if:
- You’ve not already got a BRCGS certificate.
- You’re on the unannounced audit option.
- Your CB says so (based on their risk assessment).
- If your CB or your site don’t have access to the IT needed for the remote part of the audit.
- If you’re a BRCGS Start! (basic level).
- If you’re an Agent & Broker (a full remote audit is possible instead, note; BRCGS do call this a blended audit even though there is no ‘blend’ to it, as it’s just remote).
You CAN do a blended audit if:
- It’s a re-certification audit.
- You’re on the announced audit option.
- No matter what grade your current certificate is.
- The audit is to Food Safety, Packaging, Storage & Distribution or Start! Intermediate level.
Blended audit rules:
- A blended audit is not compulsory, so you have to choose to do it.
- Your CB must complete a risk assessment to say a blended audit is suitable for you.
- The remote part of the audit must not be more than 50% of the overall audit.
- The auditor must not take screen shots during the remote audit of personnel and must get permission for any other screen shots.
- The remote audit is done first.
- There must be no more than 28 days between the remote audit and the on-site audit.
- The certificate will say ‘Blended Announced’ and it will also give the dates of the remote audit and the on-site audit.
- The audit report will detail how the remote part of the audit was carried out (what IT aspects were used) and everything assessed during the remote audit will be shown on the report using a (*).
What’s the same
- The audit duration does not differ from a normal audit.
- Handling of both the remote and the on-site audit is the same, opening meeting, closing meeting etc.
- The grading of the NCN’s and the certificate is the same.
- The process to close out the NCN’s.
So, what do you think?
We’re not really sold on the idea of a blended audit, as it just seems easier to do the whole lot on site, given that an on-site audit is needed anyway. We’d love to know your thoughts. Please share your thoughts and experiences with your fellow techie’s by adding them to the comments box below.
- Is the blended audit something that appeals to you?
- Do you think your company will take the blended audit option?
- What benefits do you see from doing a blended audit?
We've tagged this article as: audit protocol
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