Coronavirus downloads

Now that this article has been going for a while, the amount of content on it is growing and we appreciate it may be hard to find things you need. So we’ve created a download page for you, where you can find all of the downloads in one place.

Coronavirus video

To watch, share or download our Coronavirus video in English, Polish, Romanian or Spanish – just head over to our video page.

Whistle for our workers

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:

How to manage pest control during COVID-19

FAQs on implementing updated BRC072

Internal audits considerations during COVID-19

Please BRCGS – keep these coming and try to provide as much detail as you can, they’re really helpful.

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:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020

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.

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

 

Pest control

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.

 

Covid-19 tracker

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

UK Government action plan: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan/coronavirus-action-plan-a-guide-to-what-you-can-expect-across-the-uk

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.

FDA guidance: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19?utm_campaign=FSMA_COVID_03172020&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

FDA Q&A: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19?utm_campaign=FSMA_COVIDcall_03172020&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

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

17th March Update

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland share information on the Coronavirus and Food Safety: https://www.fsai.ie/faq/coronavirus.html

16th March Update

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/

IFS have published their position: https://www.ifs-certification.com/images/news/newsletter/documents/Important_information_about_Coronavirus_disease_and_the_consequences__EN.pdf

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)

 

Looking ahead

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’.

COVID-19-Updated-11-march-20202

Government advice on affected countries: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas

Original article

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:

  1. Highlight what BRC have said about how audits are being effected
  2. Look at what we can do to protect our staff and the products we are making
  3. As a forum for discussion, to share our experiences and thoughts on controls

BRC audits

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.

Protecting staff

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

At present we don’t know if the virus survives in food (as we have no guidance from FSA etc), therefore we have to presume it will.  The current advice is that it survives for up to a week on door handles, therefore it makes sense that it will survive in food, especially in ambient products.

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.

Handwashing

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.

Product contact

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

Have your say…

58 thoughts on “Coronavirus and the food industry

  1. Anyone had any thoughts on the usage of tissues within their manufacturing areas following on from the government guidance published?

  2. Posters up and we have also popped the guidance into a document for office and manufacturing staff to sign off on. We will be reviewing any guidance daily and updating as necessary.

    We are due our BRC audit on 23rd and 24th of this month. I contacted the auditing body at the start of the month for our audit plan and was told that our auditor was currently auditing abroad. I wonder where he has been?!

  3. We have stopped non essential visits from suppliers and too customers as that just seems like a sensible precaution and I’m using it and your great poster as an excuse to really push home hand washing compliance. “#is it OK to try and get something positive out of everyone’s fear?”

  4. I want to be able to tell the staff to not come to work if they are displaying any of the above mentioned smptoms however i dont know where I stand on this? Do i need to add, if they have been in contact with someone from affected by the virus ? we have more or less stopped people coming to our site now. Getting our product out to our customers is the most important thing right now.

  5. Since last week we did a risk assessment, got staff to sign off against controls implemented, extra hand sanitizer dispensers at staff entrance points, canteen facilities are being disinfected, door handles, surfaces, even sanitizing wipes for staff to decontaminate mobile phones, all staff wearing snoods to cover mouth and visitor restrictions in place and signs up all over factory. Staff also informed if they display any of the Covid 19 symptoms they are not to come to the site and to contact local Health Service as per guidelines. We are also asking them not to travel to high risk areas and sanitise hands even before they enter the site. Also reviewing splitting staff canteen at the moment and doing a shift A shift B coming in at separate times so that in the event of a positive, we do not to have self quarantine all staff and shut down as they have not interacted with each other. Hope this helps.

  6. Hiya,
    we have updated our visitor questionnaire (and limited number of visitors), updated our return to work forms, put in cleaning schedules for all high risk hand contact areas (door handles, handscanners, microwave buttons etc.) I was just wondering whether anyone had any advise on how long the factory would likely be shut down for in the event of an outbreak. Would an external cleaning company come in straight away to decontaminate, or would they wait x amount of time before to ensure if the virus is living on surfaces it isn’t high risk to the hygiene operatives? We have heard such mixed amount of times on how long the virus can survive.

  7. It seems likely now that we will have some sort of travel restriction imposed on us. For the business that I am working for we have already initiated the business continuity plan and expanded it for COVID-19. Considerations are in place on the actions we’d need to take if the factory goes into close down and as importantly, and more difficult when you start thinking about it, how to re-start from a fortnight (I’m guessing it is 14 days) shut down.

    1. Not an up to date one. I’ll contact them and see what I can get – their website doesn’t provide any clarity.

  8. Thanks – really useful especially the update today. We’re a very small produce site so its been mainly conversations so far, but we’re going to put something in place for the new week including screening questionnaires, cleaning high risk items like handles and a general memo for the staff so they have all the information required.

  9. In light of the fact the government has now moved to the delay phase and so removed the list of countries for which people are asked to self isolate from their webpage – how are sites changing their health questionnaire screening? Are you going to remove the list of countries completely since we no longer have a daily updated list and just leave it as symptoms and contact with confirm COVID-19 cases?

  10. Thanks Kassy, very useful information and well written – great to have the ability to drawn on guidance from 1 place.

    Interms of hand sanitizers can I suggest that choosing which to use is paramount. We have found out our ‘non alcohol’ based was not suitable. This has presented us with further problems i.e. religious beliefs.

  11. This advice is fantastic, easy to find what is needed for us foodies, is there any chance that you would think about creating a template visitor questionnaire? I have been trying to work on one but not sure what is relevant anymore in regards to previous travel?

    1. Hi Alex
      Given that the list of ‘at risk’ countries has been dropped, I’m not sure previous travel is relevant (to this subject specifically). It’s more about focusing on symptoms now…
      Kassy

  12. I am a little concerned how food manufacturers are handling this. Talking to our pest control company they have said some of their clients have deemed them a non essential contract and refuse them access to the site. They are apparently big players who supply the big chains (names were not mentioned). Surely this is a big part of HACCP and prerequisites how can it be deemed non essential, last thing we need is pest issues as well

  13. Here are some controls that a large manufacturer has in place at the moment, that they have kindly shared anonymously.

    We have not limited pest control as we see this as critical for business continuity – in terms of other controls see below:
    External visitors which are not essential for business continuity are suspended.
    Office staff are to work from home unless critical for them to be on site.
    Hauliers must complete a checklist outside of the site gates which will be reviewed by a member of technical and security to ensure they pose no risk.
    The logistics and supply chain team are reviewing suppliers to ensure we are able to continue receiving raw materials.
    Extra handwash stations (like Glastonbury) are placed in non food areas.
    High traffic areas (corridors, entrance points, outdoor communal areas and the canteen) are now cleaned twice per shift, with a focus on handles.
    Touch screens (printers, machines, etc) are being cleaned each hour with either soapy water or sanitiser.
    No inter-site travel.
    No meetings of more than 5 people, with the exception of crisis meetings which are happening at 8:30am and 3:30pm where the senior leaders review any government updates.
    FAQs have been given out to all staff as well as a statement from our CEO with our business priority – which is to ensure that our products remain on the supermarket shelves for everyone!
    Our Human Resources have set up a text number where they will send a text to everyone with a work mobile phone, or who is happy to provide their personal number, with an update based on government discussions.
    Normal communication through face-to-face or posters or email comms is also in place.

    As a business we are lucky as the people who are at work are in a nice, clean environment with plenty of sanitiser, soap, toilet roll, hot water – and where handwashing is essential!

  14. Hi
    I feel that given the severity of the situation on a global scale, that any audits due for renewal should at best be based on a supplier self audit. BRC and any certification body will know the history of each site and if there is any genuine concerns.
    An outright extension to those relevant people would help all of us in very, very troubled times, and help aim the resources where they are better needed – MAKING SAFE FOOD.

  15. Sent to audit body, awaiting reply:

    We are on the BRC unannounced scheme and wondered whether you are able to give us any guidance concerning the present lockdown announced.

    We are a farm and packhouse, with staff from both living in shared accommodation on site. We have restricted visitors to site and movement of personnel off-site, to best safeguard our position as a farm enjoying relative isolation from major urbanisations. We have implemented some home working and the office is manned on a rotational basis. Obviously production continues as standard, though orders are greatly reduced and so are operating hours.

    Whilst we are prepared for the audit, we do not want to jeopardise the health of our staff, and by extension the future of our business.

    Are you able to offer any guidance as to whether we can expect an audit or not, or what action we need to take? Do we need to apply for a remote audit (given that GFSI say they don’t recognise them) or something else?

    1. As I understand it John, unannounced audits will not be unannounced, i.e. date agreed beforehand. But who knows right now? I had one site tell me this morning that they turned a BRC unannouced auditor away – who knows why they were even sent in the first place!

  16. Re: Remote Audits

    I’m afraid it seems BRC are out of touch with reality with this one. Any kind of audit right now should be, quite frankly, pretty low down on anyone’s priority list. Exams have been cancelled this year; all sport postponed indefinitely; the country is on lockdown…..

    In line with this, any audits should also be postponed until we are in a safer position to handle them. Don’t bother with remote audits or self audits, just grant an extension – it’s really not that hard!!

  17. Hello from lockdowned and sunny France !
    Re : remote audits
    Any certifying body of sound mind (ie intelligent and responsible) would just add an extra few months to the validity of the quality certs. Simple ! Why complicate things?

  18. We are currently waiting on our unannounced audit on one of our sites and to be honest we are doing our best to keep all our staff safe and healthy without introducing a auditor who has been in contact with countless people in the last 2 weeks.

    I believe BRC and the certifying body should be adding an extension onto the current certificate and carrying out the standard audit once we are no longer in lock down

  19. Hi – BRC Auditor / Consultant here (who would never usually comment on this forum) – Just to clarify – unannounced have been stopped – announced sites are being offered remote audits – to extend current certs.
    CB’s and Auditors are questioning the logic of this – I work with a site with no mobile signal for e.g. and the idea of a tour around the factory by whatapp is mad – IMHO.
    Technical staff across the sector are either WFH or are on lines running at Christmas levels plugging gaps left by absence isolating staff.
    We are pleading with BRC now – filling in questionnaires and holding conference audits – is it really priority ??
    Why not stick to GFSI guidance and cert extend based upon CB risk assessment.
    Either way we will have a backlog of lapsed cert sites to sort out once the movement restrictions are lifted.
    I cannot be the only one thinking life will never be the same again – and maybe this is a good chance to review what really matters in Food Safety – Review – Improve – Move on.

      1. Hi Carol

        That’s good to know. Are these remote audits only offered to those on the announced scheme? From earlier posts the suggestion seems to be that they are not valid anyway….

        Most food sites are a metal box within another metal box – asking a lot to have a wifi signal to support streaming video!

  20. I have only seen these offered to sites on announced who are due / have been due across Europe the last few weeks.
    Exactly right on the metal box – but what worth is a video link anyway.

    There are of course issues of now unemployed (and not government supported) auditors out there desperate for a little work – even remotely and many BRC CB’s are pre paid so sites have taken these audits on advice.

  21. Hi from Kent,
    I agree with Bryan above, and GFSI – a 6 month extension under risk assessment makes reasonable sense under the current conditions as an intermediate step. However, in the longer term, I assume the issues will be :-
    1. when we have no definitive end – sorry based on the other nations suffering I don’t think we are looking at just 3 weeks lockdown – how many audits will be delayed
    2. how to deal with the backlog with finite staffing
    3. cash flow for auditing companies in the meantime to retain qualified staff
    4. could remote audits become proven and adopted as standardised operational procedure (with, I suggest, random full inspections) – potentially ‘streamlining’ certification (and, in theory, cost) for members; this would reduce income for auditing organisations – but relieve 2. above.

    I suggest if this crisis offers an opportunity to optimise efficiency (and value) for members without compromising quality or safety through innovative ways to work, is that not a positive outcome?
    However, depending on how the money flows, I appreciate I may be suggesting the turkeys vote for Christmas …. .

  22. Thank you for all this excellent information. Things have moved so fast, that keeping up has sometimes been difficult. All in one place like this makes it so much easier to stay informed.
    I am however deeply concerned to hear that the GFSI standpoint on Remote Audits is so insular and irresponsible. As the World steps up to adapt to this ever changing situation – we have a duty of care to use the technology we have all been busy investing in to help us through this – with minimal disruption and maximum safety for all. Most sites will be like us – established for some time. If you use us an example, we have maintained a grade of A or AA for over 10 years now – they need to risk asses sites and either give anticipated grades (Like the entire schooling system will have to do now) or employ remote Audits. The entire Planet has gone into lock down – these are the times to adapt and overcome – not be closed off and a hindrance. Thanks for listening and stay well everyone

  23. The food industry is working flat out to feed the nation as key workers, and BRC obviously haven’t noticed that we’re under extraordinary circumstances. To expect sites to commit sufficient manpower to carry out a remote audit with questionnaire and video tour across sites pushed to their ultimate capacity, with reduced staffing cover alongside any IT/wi-fi/mobile signal issues inside production areas is beyond ridiculous, when a dedicated auditor needs 2/3 whole days or more with the technical and production teams at their beck and call. The only sensible option is to extend all BRC certificates by 6 months, and focus on re-auditing lower graded sites as soon as possible when restrictions are lifted.

  24. The BRC audit body spoke to our Technical Director yesterday. He was told all unannounced audits are cancelled and will be replaced by a remote audit and an on-site audit within 6 months. This wasn’t my interpretation of the earlier position statement, and given comments re. GSFI on the validity of such I have my doubts, but as your note at the top says this has been removed pending a possible update we’ll sit tight for the time being. He is contacting them again this morning for clarification. Will update accordingly. Thanks.

  25. Hi,

    So, we had our remote audit yesterday, and as we were wrappipng up, the message on the remote audits not being recognized by BRC popped up…. quite a bummer after spending a whole day with several people.

    Our CB was not aware of it, neither seemed BRCGS to be….

    We will see where this ends up.

    Anyway, our experience of the remote audit for just the purpose of document and records review was quite OK. Besides some technical problems with video and sound feed, it went quite well. We were more then able to show the auditor evidence.

    From my point of view, the remote audit is a good thing, in combination with the onsite inspection later in the year.

    Robert

      1. Thank you Robert, that’s really good of you to share your experience. And sorry about the timing of the message! 🙂

  26. BRC doesn’t understand the pressure of food industries at this moment in time, nobody can literally “waste their time” in conducting remote audits and prepare the infrastructure for these. They are not being realistic and only thinking about their business but if they are not sensible I think this can kick them back and their reputation. We should be in this all together!

    1. Totally agree LewisP. Either that or not have any technical people to work with because they’ve had enough of this nonsense and have left the industry.

  27. Hi Kassy,
    Just wanted to say thankyou so much for keeping us up to date with directives. The guidance and information has help our Company during these trouble times. Keep up the great work.
    Thank you once again.

  28. Thanks Kassy for the regular updates. I’m part of the “Pandemic Team” and we are looking to introduce temperature screening of staff before they enter the sites. Is anyone currently doing this & would you be willing to share your procedure please?

  29. Hi All, I would like to ask if anyone has got any quote from the Certification Body for risk assessment related to BRC audit postponement. I got a quote just above £1,000 for 2-4 hours job. Considering the situation we are, in which business are struggling to get to the end of the month, I personally feel this not very sensible. What’s your view? Thanks

  30. Reference BRC072 document, dated 25th March 2020, page 5, BRCGS Fees. No charge will be made by BRC, so how a certification body can make such a high charge is difficult to see. Unless of course you are skeptical about these sorts of things. I’d challenge the charge and ask for justification for that vs a full day on site. Good luck!

    1. Hi Carol, many thanks for your response. Yes I saw the note on page 5, that’s why I wanted to sense check with others if they have been charged so much too. I understand there are some admin fee but I believe this quote is overpriced with respect to the timing required.

      1. Clara and Carol
        I know that there is one CB who are charging a whole lot less than that – like half!
        So, I’d definitely challenge it.
        Kassy

  31. Has anyone heard anything about the Global Gap position on audits? This is pretty much the only standard we don’t have that my suppliers do so I’ve not heard anything.

    1. I’ll take a look now Rebecca. I would imagine they are doing certificate extensions with it being a GFSI recognised standard.

  32. A lot has changed in the way we work since the outbreak, but I thought it would be helpful to share a few things which have happened with us in order to #StopTheSpread. The hardest part for us has been to avoid any ‘scare-mongering’ and keeping everyone positive.
    – We’ve introduced staggered break starts for our different facilities – therefore minimising crossover of different teams
    – Staff who can work from home are being urged to do so, obviously for a manufacturing facility this is difficult for the most of us, but it has definitely helped us improve our social distancing – Skype is a wonderful thing!
    – Continuing to meet (and communicate) with our teams from a safe distance
    – Coronavirus specific noticeboards around the site
    – Goodie-bags for all employees, including product we make on site as well as sweets & necessities (pasta, rice, etc)
    – Vouchers for our site shop, which houses a number of long shelf life products

    Hopefully this goes some way to helping those who are struggling to keep teams engaged, but I would also be interested to hear what everyone else is doing, and if you think we could do anything better.

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for sharing this, that’s great. Sounds like you’re doing some amazing things for your staff – which I’m sure they must appreciate during this difficult time. Hopefully other sites will share what they’re doing too, so we can all apply them!

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