Join in and help us show our keyworkers how much we appreciate them.
Please share our song and video. Put the posters up in the canteen to ensure your key workers know how much they’re appreciated.
We’re encouraging people to record their own versions and post them with the #whistleforworkers – maybe you could get your site teams to do this?
To find out more and download the posters and more go to our whistleforworkers page.
7th April Update
Great to see that BRCGS are really trying to communicate their thoughts during this time. They have published a few statements. Please don’t expect lots of clarity, but you may be able to take a few pieces of information from it:
Please BRCGS – keep these coming and try to provide as much detail as you can, they’re really helpful.
6th April Update
FDA implement remote supplier audits for the FSVP rule: https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-temporarily-conduct-remote-importer-inspections-under-fsvp-due-covid-19?utm_campaign=FSMA_COVID-19%20FSVP%20Lab%20Acc_04%2F03%2F2020&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=D12A57E0596CCBC36296A454532F6592&elq=6e2e2848ba874a0fa8fa978ada0281a1&elqaid=11956&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=10090
West London Coronavirus recorded webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CdhAtXPQR8&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop#menu
UK Parliament has launched an inquiry into the affect of Coronavirus on the supply chain: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/217/covid19-and-food-supply/publications/
3rd April Update
FDA relaxes menu labelling around nutritional information: https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-provides-flexibility-regarding-menu-labeling-requirements-chain-restaurants-and-similar-retail
11:25: Global.G.A.P certificate extension: https://www.globalgap.org/uk_en/media-events/news/articles/Adapted-GLOBALG.A.P.-Emergency-Procedure-for-Certificate-Extension-due-to-the-Corona-Virus-Pandemic/
Food Standards Scotland publish guidance for food businesses: https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/publications-and-research/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-business-operators-and-their-employees
Includes a link to Health Protection Scotland’s COVID-19 Information and Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings, which has loads of useful information.
ACAS information page, with links to webinars: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Today’s Beanstalk.Global webinar is Why Now IS The Time to Support British Growers & Fresh Food
2nd April Update
Interesting read from China about life after the lock down: https://chinafoodlaw.blog/2020/03/17/corona-virus-impact-on-food-industry/amp/
Further background to the next threat – the fresh food supply chain: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/fresh-produce-europe-coronavirus/
COVID-19 risk assessment – on our working from home page, we’ve set up a forum to discuss how we are going to demonstrate our reasoning behind reducing certain tasks, such as internal audits, pest control, lab testing etc. Please get involved – it would be great, if together we can compile one risk assessment that we can all use.
1st April Update
Big spike in deaths yesterday, so the downward trend in numbers has not continued unfortunately: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/f94c3c90da5b4e9f9a0b19484dd4bb14
BSI are running webinars on COVID-19 (please bear in mind these look like they are designed to advertise ISO Standards): https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/topics/novel-coronavirus-covid-19
There is a risk that we will not have enough pickers to pick UK crops when they are ready, which would mean they would rot. A campaign is going to recruit up to 80,000 pickers: http://www.fruitnet.com/fpj/article/181264/nearly-10000-brits-apply-for-picking-jobs
More details of how you can help to follow later this week.
31st March Update
Public Health England (PHE) figures on cases and deaths: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/f94c3c90da5b4e9f9a0b19484dd4bb14
You can see from this graph why they are thinking the death rate is slowing, that last 6 days death figures were; 41, 115, 181, 260, 209 and yesterday 180. Let’s hope it continues to drop.
Camfil have produced video answers to the most frequently asked Coronavirus questions: https://www.camfil.com/en/insights/life-science-and-healthcare/virus/frequently-asked-questions-about-viruses-and-filtration
Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association guidance: NIFDA Good Manufacturing Practice Covid-19
UK Government advice about the current rapid tests that are on sale: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-rapid-tests-for-use-in-community-pharmacies-or-at-home/covid-19-rapid-tests-for-use-in-community-pharmacies-or-at-home
30th March Update
Legislation for Coronavirus has been published:
Red Tractor updates their position statement (updated 10:30am): https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7085.pdf?_=637209261194765777
The current UKAS position which was last updated 17th March: (which is before the lock down) https://www.ukas.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak/
An additional UKAS announcement was published on 24th March following EA Communication: https://www.ukas.com/news/ea-communication-covid-19-outbreak/
The announcement states that there will be a Technical Policy Statement published wc. 23rd March. An Introduction to Remote Audits was published on 24th March, so we can only presume this is the Technical Policy Statement, as there is no other relevant publications after this on their news feed: https://www.ukas.com/news/an-introduction-to-remote-assessments/
The webpage includes a video about remote audits and also a link to a guidance document on remote audits. It seems that a virtual live audit is needed, as this guidance covers ‘Witnessing of Technical Activities’.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) have published advice for their members: https://www.nfuonline.com/news/coronavirus-updates-and-advice/coronavirus-news/coronavirus-advice-for-nfu-members/
27th March Update
FSA have published guidance: https://www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/news/fsa-publishes-guidance-for-food-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19
In summary, it supports the theory that food is not at risk and reiterates the governments previous advice.
Thank you letter from DEFRA, please put up at site so all of your key workers can see how much they are appreciated: Letter from Geroge Eustice, Defra SoS
FDA have relaxed labelling rules during this time: https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-provides-temporary-flexibility-regarding-nutrition-labeling-certain-packaged-food-response-covid
To extend your BRC Certificate you need to have specific COVID-19 controls in place. We’ve updated our Incident, Withdrawal & Recall pack to include these. It meets the requirements for Food, Packaging, Storage & Distribution and Agents & Brokers.
This Friday’s Beanstalk.Global session is called:
Register for free here.
26th March Update
BRCGS published a new position statement last night, full details here: https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/brcgs-announces-revised-guidance-for-sites-affected-by-covid-19/
Essentially, this means the self assessment and the remote audits have been removed. Certificates will be extended by 6 months and a full audit will be carried out when possible.
If you have a remote audit booked with your certification body, please contact them to confirm that it will be cancelled and agree the next steps to get your certificate extended.
The requirements include your emergency response plans for the Coronavirus, so we’ll work on that today for you – so you have that tomorrow.
Our very own Barbara Bray was on last weeks first Beanstalk.Global webinar – “Five things that all fresh businesses need to know to survive the Coronavirus”
This Friday’s session is called ““Is it the end of the retailer’s monopoly globally of fresh food as we all look to go direct to the Grower/Producer due to the supply issues created by Covid-19?” – register to watch it here.
25th March Update
5:25pm: BRCGS have published a new position statement, full details here: https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/brcgs-announces-revised-guidance-for-sites-affected-by-covid-19/
Essentially, this means the self assessment and the remote audits have been removed. Certificates will be extended by 6 months and a full audit will be carried out when possible.
11am: John Tomlinson, Sales & Marketing Director at BRCGS just called to say they’re working on updated guidelines. A formal announcement will follow shortly. Essentially, he said that a 6 month extension will be given to certificates, based on risk assessment and your internal audit. Remote audits may be required to support this, where your customers ask for them – however, this is not going to be a virtual audit of the factory, but rather a remote paperwork based audit. So, you can do this at home. As soon as they publish the update, I’ll let you know.
BRCGS look like they may be preparing to make an annoucement, as they have taken their statement off the website and changed it to this (don’t let the date on it confuse you, I think this is a BRC typical typo/oversight):
Letter of authority
We were asked yesterday for a formal letter, that you can print on your company headed paper and give to your employees – in case they are stopped by the police on their way to or from work. So, here you go: Key Worker Authority Letter 24032020
There have been reports of pest controllers not being allowed on sites. We would suspect that this was a miscommunication during the time where we were all getting used to not allowing visitors on site.
Now that we move into full lock down and restrictions on travel, we need to do everything we can though to limit the exposure from (and to) pest controllers.
Our recommendations would be to:
- Check that the contractor is not showing signs of the typical symptoms
- Delay any biologists visits delayed (to be reviewed in least 3 weeks)
- Where your site has monitoring equipment that they can be checked by on-site personnel – they should be checked and recorded in-house, under a risk assessment and following the guidance from the pest contractor
- Where toxic and non toxic chemical pest monitoring points are in place, these must be checked by the pest controller
- The pest controller must complete these checks alone and always keep a 2 meter distance from all personnel
- The suspension or extension of the window for changing of tubes or moth pot pheromones should be discussed with your pest contractor and where this is put in place, this should be under a documented risk assessment and a review date also documented
If you have any other suggestions, please add them to the comments below and we’ll add them to our list, so everyone can benefit from them.
An app has been launched to help scientists monitor the spread. Just complete a simple 1 minute report daily: https://covid.joinzoe.com/
24th March Update
Remote audit update
GFSI publish updated and enforced position statement: https://mygfsi.com/news_updates/update-on-temporary-audit-measures-during-covid-19-pandemic
Essentially, what this says is that BRC carrying out remote audits is not compliance with their requirements and as such, GFSI will not recognise any remote audits or any certificates issued on this basis. Therefore, if you have had a BRC remote audit – this is null and void.
What GFSI are saying that should happen – is that your certificate can be extended for 6 months based on risk assessment. This also means that any remote audits that have been booked, should now be cancelled. However, there is no feedback from BRC on this position. Apparently remote audits are still going ahead tomorrow.
Any remote audits that happen will not be valid in GFSI’s eyes and (therefore you could say) are a waste of everyone’s time.
Please add your thoughts on this to the comments section of this article. We would like to get the power of the people, to get BRC to rethink their position and cancel the remote audits – in line with GFSIs instructions.
Day 1 of full lock down. UK Government instructions: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
Coronavirus bill will require food industry to provide information sharing on the food supply chain, to establish where it is at risk of being distributed. No further information at this stage as to what information will be requested or when: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do
Further details on the emergency bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/emergency-bill-to-strengthen-coronavirus-covid-19-response-plans
20th March Update
Great resource from the National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited (FSB) for the self employed and small business owners: https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html
Help for consultants and interims: https://worknotes.co.uk/freelance-guide/when-things-go-wrong/coronavirus-covid-19-planning
Position statement from GFSI: https://mygfsi.com/news_updates/statement-on-temporary-audit-measures-during-covid-19-pandemic
Map that tracks the spread of the virus: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/coronavirus-map-tracks-spread-of-outbreak-around-the-world/ar-BB1106Zx?item=personalization_enabled:false
19th March Update
Working from home
We have had a number of requests about eLearning courses, as people are obviously wanting to complete courses while they are working from home. Typically, we would suggest an in-house course where are a number of people from one company wanting to complete a course, as this is a more cost effective option. However, given the situation, we appreciate that this isn’t a viable option.
Therefore, to support you during this time, we have discounted our eLearning courses and distance learning eBooks by 40% so that they are in line with the cost per person, of an in-house course.
The war on Coronavirus #keeptheshelvesstocked
We have published an article on how we need to take a different approach, to ensure that the shelves stay stocked: https://techni-k.co.uk/uk-food-industry-war-on-coronavirus/
18th March Update
Watch out: We have had reports (see comments below) that pest contractors are not being permitted onto site. This should not be classed as non-essential. During this time we still need to ensure that the sites are pest free. Please check to make sure your pest controller is being allowed onto site.
Update from UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Update from UK Government on risk level and numbers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
NHS guidance on when and how long to stay at home: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
WHO social distancing poster (sorry about the quality, I’m trying to find a better one): WHO-March-2020-social-distancing.jpg
UK Government advice for households with suspected virus: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-for-households-with-possible-covid-19-infection
There have been some slightly inaccurate posts on social media about ibuprofen – and that it ‘speeds’ up the virus. The guidance is to not use it as it isn’t good for those with respiratory problems. Stick to paracetamol instead if it’s needed.: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1086
SALSA audits cancelled from 1st to 30th April: SALSA IMPORTANT INFORMATION
16th March Update
UK Government advice for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19
We have published the following documents for our consultants and clients during this time.
13th March Update
SALSA Food published guidance about audits on 6th March, we’ll be asking them for an update today: https://www.salsafood.co.uk/about.php?p=5 (choose the ‘SPP COVID-19 0320‘ link)
NEW Update: SALSA’s full statement on Coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit : https://www.salsafood.co.uk/about.php?p=5
Message from SALSA: “We’re encouraging members who have upcoming audits to read the statement and speak to us if they have any questions.”
The Food Industry Association (FMI) published guidance at the end of Feb: https://www.fmi.org/food-safety/coronavirus
SQF are deferring audits: https://www.sqfi.com/covid-19-update-for-sqf-certified-sites/
FSSC 22000 position statement: https://www.fssc22000.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20.0226-position-paper-Corona-virus.pdf
NHS England advice: CEM_CMO_2020_008.pdf
Camfil have published guidance on air filtration: https://www.camfil.com/en/insights/life-science-and-healthcare/virus
12th March Update
BRCGS have published guidance about audits: https://www.brcgs.com/media/2082384/brc072-brcgs-audits-impacted-by-covid-19-12_03_20.pdf
UK Government website is providing current advice and the governments response to the virus: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance and advice: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) advice: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
European Food Safety Authority have stated that there is no evidence that coronavirus can survive on food, as it needs a host: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/coronavirus-no-evidence-food-source-or-transmission-route
Stats as of today:
80% of people who get the virus will get a mild respiratory illness, 15% will get a severe illness and 5% will need hospitalisation.
The mortality rate for the (mainly due to comorbidities (which means due to other illness they already have):
- over 80’s: 14.8%,
- 70 – 79: 8%
- 60 – 69: 3.6%
- 50 – 59: 1.3%
- 40 – 49: 0.4%
- 10 – 39: 0.2%
- Under 10’s: none
Info on testing for Covid-19 (fyi – Covid-19 is the disease caused by Coronavirus)
To be tested, the person needs to meet at least 2 of the following criteria:
1. Traveled from abroad
2. Been in contact or in the same room as a confirmed Covid-19 positive person
3. Showing symptoms (cough, runny nose, temperature, muscle aches)
In principle if we go into lock down like Italy, we could imagine the following:
- Everyone who can work from home, should do so
- Factory workers should only travel to and from work
- Staff that are at risk, e.g. a medical condition or are over a certain age (given the above stats – is this necessary if they don’t have a medical condition as well) should stay at home
- There should be safety distance between staff, Italy advised 1m
What are your thoughts on this?
Questions to think about…
Have you checked that you have the most up to date contact details for all of your staff?
Do you have contingency plans in place for additional labour?
Do you have a screening process for current staff and agency staff?
Do you have a policy for payment of staff who are affected?
If you have a confirmed case on site, what is your policy for other staff members who may have been exposed?
Have you considered additional or increased cleaning for surfaces, e.g. in the canteen?
Do you have contingency plans in place for ingredient supply from affected countries?
If supply of ingredients becomes an issue, prices will rise – do you have plans in place for this?
Vulnerability of your ingredients with claims will become a greater risk, where supply and price becomes an issue. Are your prepared for this?
11th March Update
This is the advice being given to GP surgeries. Although the information is being provided for GPs you can switch the terminology so it applies to us. For example, switch ‘practice’ to ‘site’ and ‘patient’ to ‘staff’.
Government advice on affected countries: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas
Now that Coronavirus (Covid-19) has taken hold of the UK, it’s becoming a hot topic for us techies’.
The aim of this article is to cover a number of points:
- Highlight what BRC have said about how audits are being effected
- Look at what we can do to protect our staff and the products we are making
- As a forum for discussion, to share our experiences and thoughts on controls
So, BRC have published a statement on this topic, which you can read here: https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/latest-brcgs-audits-affected-by-coronavirus-travel-restrictions/
At the moment, this isn’t affecting audits in the UK and therefore, you cannot restrict access to the auditor.
It will be interesting to see how this progresses, in the coming days and weeks.
I’ve had a number of enquiries from sites, who are looking to restrict access to their site to limit the exposure to their staff.
The virus is not airborne, it is only transferred by touch. Wearing a face mask will only help to stop the spread of the virus, if someone was to cough or sneeze – as the virus is spread on water droplets.
It’s important to make sure that staff do not come to work if they are showing signs of the virus.
The NHS has provided a list of symptoms which you can find here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
So, you need to make sure that all staff are aware of the symptoms and provide them with instructions on what they should do, if they are showing signs of them.
Staff should also be made aware of what they should do to help prevent the spread of the virus; by:
- washing their hands frequently and properly
- sanitising their hands
- not touching their face
- and also when coughing or sneezing, to use a tissue, bin it and then wash their hands
Protecting the product
The FSA haven’t issued any guidance as yet, but there are a number of things that we can do, which will help to reduce the contamination risk to the product.
To reduce the risk to the product, the frequency of this needs to be increased and staff need to wash their hands properly (not a splash and dash). Sanitiser could also be provided at work stations to use regularly throughout the day.
Staff who are touching the product need to be extra, extra vigilant. They must not touch their face and they must wash their hands frequently.
Advice on the coronavirus for the food industry poster
We’ve designed a FREE poster, that you can use on site.
The poster features:
- Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
- Hand washing procedures
We've tagged this article as: BRC audit protocol, Chemical and physical product contamination control, Medical screening, Personal hygiene, Personnel
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