We were asked by one of our lovely readers if we could compare the BRCGS, IFS and FSSC22000 certificates, so that’s what we’re going to do in this article.

Initially we wanted to be able to say, if you’re a B grade BRCGS site, that’s equivalent to ‘X’ grade in IFS or FSSC – but as you’ll see as we go through this article, this isn’t as straight forward as we had hoped!

And with everything we do when you look at something so closely, we noticed a few interesting points – which we’ll highlight as we go through.

Let’s start with what we know first – BRCGS.

BRCGS certificate scoring

We compared the scoring system for Food Safety, Packaging Materials, Agents & Brokers and Storage & Distribution and this is what we found.

Three of the certificates have the same scoring system; Food Safety, Packaging Materials and Storage & Distribution.

Major
NCN
Minor NCN
0 – 5
Minor NCN
6 – 10
Minor NCN
11 – 16
Minor NCN
17 – 24
Minor NCN
25 – 30
Minor NCN
31 +
0 AA A B C D Fail
1 B B C D Fail
2 C C D Fail
3 or more Fail
  • Any critical non-conformance results in a fail.
  • Non-compliance to a fundamental requirement results in a fail.
  • For an unannounced audit, add  ‘+’ to the score.

The scoring system for Agents & Brokers is different, as there is no D grade.

Major
NCN
Minor NCN
0 – 5
Minor NCN
6 – 10
Minor NCN
11 – 15
Minor NCN
16 – 20
Minor NCN
21 +
0 AA A B C Fail
1 B B C Fail Fail
2 C C Fail Fail
3 or more Fail
  • Any critical non-conformance results in a fail.
  • Non-compliance to a fundamental requirement results in a fail.
  • So, there are four possible grades for a BRC certificate; AA, A, B or C.

It’s interesting that the Agents & Brokers grading is different to the other Standards. This makes sense from the perspective that there are less requirements to comply with.

FSSC22000 certificate scoring

Like BRC, the FSSC grade non-conformances as minor, major or critical. However, the FSSC don’t use the non-conformances to score the certificate. In theory you can have as many minor and major non-conformances as you like, and as long as you close them out in time, you’ll get your certificate.

The only exception is that if you receive a critical non-conformance – this will result in a failed audit.

This means there is no grade for a FSSC certificate; there is only one option – a passed audit.

IFS certificate scoring

The scoring for IFS is totally different. Minor, major and critical non-conformances are not used to grade the certificate. Instead, it’s based on a points system.

Points are given for compliance to each requirement. Where you are fully compliant to a requirement, you score 20 points. This is known as an ‘A’ result.

Then, there are three further levels of non-compliance, where you get a reduced score (or minus score).

Non-conformance Result Points
Almost full compliance B 15
Small part of the requirement has been implemented C 5
Requirement has not been implemented D -20

Once points are awarded for each requirement, a % score is then calculated.

To pass, a score of 75% is required. A foundation certificate is awarded for a score of between 75 to 94%, and a high certificate is awarded for 95% or more.

There are also situations were a ‘KO’ (knock out) or major non-conformance is applied and this would result in a failed audit.

This means, there are two grades of IFS certificate; foundation and higher.

Having compared how many requirements there are for IFS Food (281) and IFS Brokers (146), the penalty for non compliance to 1 requirement is greater when there are less requirements.

For example:
If you fail one requirement for IFS Food – you lose 0.4% from 100%.
If you fail one requirement for IFS Brokers, you lose 0.7% from 100%.

Comparison of the certificates

It would have been great, to be able to compare the grades of certificates for BRC, IFS and FSSC where you could say a BRC B grade was the equivalent of a ‘X’ grade in IFS or FSSC.

But as you can see, they are not comparable. FSSC don’t even grade the certificate. The points system for IFS means you can get a lot of B results (which you could relate to a minor) and still get a higher certificate.

What do you think?

It would be great to know what you think about the differences in the way that the certificates are graded, between BRC, IFS and FSSC.

We’ve found it surprising how they can all be GFSI recognised certificates, but they aren’t really comparable.

And more surprising is that the FSSC certificate doesn’t have a scoring system at all! It does seem wrong – that in theory, you can have 10 majors for example – and still receive a certificate!

Have your say…

3 thoughts on “Comparison of BRCGS, IFS and FSSC certificate scores

  1. I believe that all GFSI’s should be brought under 1 common scoring system.
    Common opinion in the industry is that BRC is a higher standard than FSSC 22000 so perhaps in the first instance all GFSI standards should be reviewed so achievement of GFSI Certification carries more kudos irrespective of the actual GFSI Certification standard adopted by an organisation.

    1. I agree Paul. The more I look at the different schemes the more I realise how different they are. It’s like comparing apples with pears. Even more so – now that I’m looking at FSSC.

  2. I like the approach of the FSSC as it is more risk based than the BRC. Indeed the BRC is very prescriptive. I think it would be good to have a balance approach between the 2.

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