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.

An important announcement

As of Monday 18th May we will only be sending out an update to those that specifically subscribe to receive them. This is so that we can try to get back to our usual weekly Techni-K Smart Knowledge articles. If you would like to receive this COVID-19 update please subscribe using the form to the right. Techni-K Smart Knowledge will recommence Wednesday 20th May.

14th August Update

Nothing to report.

29th July Update

Given the confirmed case of COVID-19 in a cat in the UK, the Government has now issued guidance for people with animals, including livestock.

17th July Update

SALSA

Site audits resume from today.

13th July Update

BRCGS have published position statement BRCGS080 on blended audits. Unforatuntely they have said it’s available on the main website, but it’s not. It’s available in BRCGS Participate (apparently), so if you have a log in and can find the document and could share it with the rest of us that would be amazing!

Update 9:05am GMT: Apparently BRCGS080 is not on BRC Participate. Thank you to Anna for checking.

Update 11:50: BRCGS080 blended audits

We would be keen to know what you think about blended audits. 

  • Given that part of the audit still needs to be on site – do you see the value in it?
  • What benefits do you think there is to this sort out audit?
  • Would you go for this option?

Please add your thoughts in comments.

8th July Update

BRCGS have updated BRCGS078 Position Statement.

Where an audit cannot be arranged because of lack of availability of auditors, the site has 3 options:

  1. arrange the audit with another certification body
  2. apply a certificate extension and book in the audit at the next available time
  3. book in the audit and allow the current certificate to expire (the normal major will not be applied in this situation)

They have also stated that details for loaning auditors and blended audits are available in position statements BRCGS082 and BRCGS080. Although these are not available anywhere on the website that we can find.

26th June Update

BRCGS have published a whole load of documents which they are titling ‘Restart, reshape, reinforce

There is too much information, to be able to highlight anything specific to you. We will review the information today and provide details tomorrow.

Updated 10am GMT

Having reviewed the information provided, we can confirm that the only change is the update to BRC072 to version 5, which now includes the information regarding the addition of a fee for certificate extension.

Pretty much all the other elements of the website under the umberella of ‘Restart, reshape, reinforce’ are sales and marketing posts – to get you to purchase additional elements.

We didn’t want you to spend time looking for things that aren’t there. It’s a shame that we have to pick through the sales techniques to find the information we need (or lack of it).

12th June Update

GFSI publish new statement on COVID-19 which includes their updated benchmarking requirements to allow for remote auditing.

The document which ha

s been updated is Benchmarking requirements part 2, page 23, which states:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This means that BRC will be able to implement remote auditing, so we are expecting an announcement from them any day now.

BRCGS have also published updated guidance on face masks, although it doesn’t give us a great deal of detail.

Face masks: We’ve been asked to provide guidance on how to incorporate disposable face masks into your changing procedure. We would recommend that disposable face masks should be put on either before or after hair nets – as touching your face is the same as touching your hair; you need to wash your hands afterwards. We would advise, that you go for before the hair net – in case anyone needs to put a beard snood on as well.

5th June Update

BRCGS have published a webinar this week about the threat of fraud, during the pandemic: https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/webinar-the-threat-of-food-fraud-substitution-and-protecting-the-integrity-of-product-claims/

We have also updated our handwashing poster and covid hygiene policy, to include the new symptoms of loss of taste and smell.  Just head over to the downloads page to get the updated copy.

Please also let us know if you there is anything else you need and we’ll do our best to create it for you.

2nd June Update

Test, track, trace

UK Government publish guidance for test, track, trace: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

Unfortunately the guidance is not clear. If a worker is notified by the app to isolate, and then they have a test which is negative, it says:

“If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet – this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.”

Which means anyone who is alerted would be off for 14 days negardless of whether they test positive or negative, even if you feel well.

However, further down the guidance it talks about those who have symptoms of the virus and if they have a negative test then:

If you get a negative test result, this means you are at low risk of having coronavirus.

“If you feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus, you can stop self-isolating.”

Very confusing….

UK Government have also published guidance for workplaces, but it doesn’t help at all to be honest: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance

BRCGS Certificate Extension – non-conformances

From the data that you have provided I can confirm that the following COVID-19 issues have been highlighted during the certificate extension reviews – so check your systems to make sure you’re compliant.

  • visitors questionnaire is accompanied with a statement about corona and the reason for having more questions. The questions are all relating to covid however the specific word ‘Covid 19’ was not on the doc (irrelevant that it is accompanied with a covid statement)
  • handwashing procedure did not include reference to the 20 second rule
  • the return to work health questionnaire did not include any health screening questions for Covid-19
  • a tool nox talk with staff members regarding hand washing was not documented
  • the business contingency plan did not include a crisis in relation to a pandemic outbreak such as Covid -19
  • the site had a policy of paying Statutory Pay for sick leave. This policy should have a formal record of discussion considering this may lead employees suffering with symptoms to hide / still come to work given 14 days required away from work

We’ve talked about the Statutory Pay issue before – this was successfully appealed and removed from the audit report.

We’re also not sure about the crisis management NCN. As we’re in the middle of it – putting something into the incident procedure seems unnecessary. We need to learn from this situation and implement something that is well thought out. Having scanned through the BRC documents again, it also doesn’t seem to be a requirement – but we’ll keep looking!

1st June Update

BRCGS publish a new position statement on how audits will be managed when they can restart. It’s a really well written document, which tackles the issues that we will face due to lack of auditors – as there will be so many audits that need doing in a short period of time. It’s great to see BRC tacklinng this problem head on, to provide clarity before the problem occurs: BRCGS078Position Statementon Onsite Audits Post Covid-19 Lockdown

29th May Update

Test, Trace, Track

UK Government has published guidance for businesses, but it doesn’t help with our problem unforatuntely: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance

No news as of yet from BRCGS on this subject.

BRCGS launch Certificate Extension PLUS, which is basically the remote audit from before.  This is optional and is not GFSI recognised.  BRCGS077–Certificate Extension PLUS

28th May Update

Test, Trace, Track

As the UK Government plans to launch the Test, Trace and Track app – we need to start thinking about what impact this will have on our staff at sites.

The app works using a bluetooth signal, so that when two phones come into close contact with each other it creates a ‘digital handshake’. At this moment in time, we can’t find any information about how close the two phones have to be, but we’re presuming that it would need to be within a bluetooth signal range. A Google search suggests it’s 10m. If anyone has any further details on this – it would be great if you could share them.

What this means to us

Currently, we ask personnel to keep their phone in their locker.  This would typically mean that all phones would probably be within a 10m range of each other – depending on your facilities and how big your site is.  Meaning, that if one person is tested positive, everyone who was on site at the time would be identified to self-isolate – therefore, having a huge knock on to that shift.

Staff normally also take their phones to the canteen, which will mean everyone in the canteen at that time is probably within 10m of each other.

For the app to work, staff would need to be permitted to have their phone on their person, even when they are in the factory. The challenge is how do we do this without compremising product safety?

It would be great, if you could share your thoughts and solutions to this. We’ll get in touch with BRCGS to ask them to consider this and see if we can get a response.

26th May Update

SALSA: have extended certificate extensions to the end of June. A remote audit facility is also available from the beginning of June: https://www.salsafood.co.uk/newsDetail.php?n=469

22nd May Update

FSA & DEFRA have published their FAQs on face masks: FSA DEFRA face masks

21st May Update

Nothing new to report today.

20th May Update

Results of yesterdays poll.  In answer to the question:

“Is your site relying on test results, or are you imposing the full isolation period regardless of the test results?”

59.4% said – We are taking a negative result as fact and allowing staff to return to work

34.4% said – are imposing the full isolation period, regardless of the test result

And 6.3% said – Other

Prince Charles is getting behind the Pick for Britain campaign: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/prince-charles-pick-for-britain-fruit-veg-video-royal-family-a9521516.html

19th May Update

British Medical Journal reports that the COVID-19 test is around 30% inaccurate – giving false positives and false negatives: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1808

This poses a challenge when relying on the results that are given to staff working on site.

It would be interesting to know if your site are relying on the results of the test, or if you are still imposing the isoloation period regardless of the test result.

We’ve included a poll on this mornings email, but please also add your thoughts and comments – to share with your fellow techies.

18th May Update

15th May Update

BRCGS have updated position statement BRC072: BRCGS Auditsimpacted by Covid-19

It’s also come to our attention this morning that position statement F837 Food Safety has been updated – to clarify that not all products will require environmental monitoring based on risk. This version is dated 17th March but when we last checked the BRCGS website on 23rd April this new version wasn’t there. So, apologies for missing this.We’ve now updated the food position statement page to reflect this.

DEFRA & FSA guidance on face masks is now delayed until at least early next week – we’ll provide this as soon as it’s available.

Please add your feedback about anything related to this update.  You can do this by clicking the button below – which will take you to the comments section on this page.

14th May Update

WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks

Johnson’s are providing face masks which can be laundered: JohnsonWorkwear

DEFRA & FSA are expected to publish face mask guidance any day now – we’ll provide this as soon as it’s available.

Please add your feedback about what you’re doing about face masks.  You can do this by clicking the button below – which will take you to the comments section on this page.

13th May Update

UK Government provide guidance to work safely:

in factories, plants and warehouse

in offices and contact centres

in a vehicle

UK Government have also provided a poster for businesses to use to confirm that they are COVID-19 secure: staying-covid-19-secure (002)

UK Furlough scheme extended for four months: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52634759

UK Concerns around unsafe working conditions can be raised with HSE: https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm

 

BRCGS guidance on face masks

It has been highlighted to us that this guidance is confusing, if you’re not a food site (.e.g if you are a packaging site) as the clause references are from the food standard. Therefore, we looked into this and found that actually, it doesn’t even make sense if you’re a food site.

“It is unlikely that reusable face masks can be sent through a laundry process and therefore clause 7.4.6 applies – the site will need a procedure for cleaning / sanitizing at an appropriate frequency.”

Clause 7.4.6 in the food standard says: “Where items of personal protective clothing that are not suitable for laundering are provided (such as chain mail, gloves and aprons), these shall be cleaned and sanitised at a frequency based on risk.”

How do you clean and sanitise a disposable fask mask?

“High risk and high care areas will need to consider processes for these areas – ideally dedicated face masks would be used in these areas (as with other PPE) however, where this is genuinely not possible, for example due to the current shortages in suitable masks, then they should be treated in accordance with clause 8.3.3 and a specific cleaning/transfer process is required.”

“Clause 8.3.3 states: Where portable equipment (e.g. handheld devices) is used in high-risk or high-care areas, these items shall either be:
• visually distinctive and dedicated for use in that area
or
• have specific procedures (e.g. a full clean) to ensure that their use does not result in contamination.”

Again, if a face mask is not dedicated to the area – how do you clean it on the way into the area?

So, apologies for publishing something that doesn’t make much sense. Lesson learnt – we will read BRC guidance more carefully before publishing from now on!

https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/guidance-on-the-use-of-ppe-such-as-face-masks/

What’s the solution?

Common sense says that there are a whole load of problems with trying to clean face masks and having to remove disposable ones on leaving production areas. Therefore, our thoughts are (and this is only our thoughts – so please challenge us) is to use a beard snood over the top of the face mask. That way the beard snood can be removed on leaving the area. It works for a beard so in theory, it should be good enough for a face mask. There is an arguement, that – what’s the difference between a face mask and the skin on your face?  The key to all of this is hand washing – ensure that any micro on your face is not transferred to surfaces or the product.

And, please if you are providing face masks to your staff, please reiterate that it doesn’t remove the need to stay 2m apart. It’s an additional measure, not a replacement to 2m.

The face mask should be seen as a piece of clothing. Staff put it on when they leave home and keep it on until they get home again. If it’s seen as a piece of personal clothing, then we have to protect the product from it – like we do with any other piece of personal clothing.

It would be good to know if you agree with this approach, or if you have any other ideas that you can share? What are you doing at your site?

12th May Update

UK Government Plan: FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_ (1) (1)

IFST have published a checklist to help consumer facing food businesses to restart: IFST Food business restart checklist 07MAY2020

BRCGS publish guidance on face masks: https://www.brcgs.com/about/news/2020/guidance-on-the-use-of-ppe-such-as-face-masks/

11th May Update

UK Government starts to relax the rules from Wednesday, where we can go out in the car, take unlimited exercise. But many are very confused about what that means for seeing friends and family and who should be returning to work. Message is changed from Stay at Home to Stay Alert: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus Further information to be published today at 2pm, to clarify the new rules.

GFSI’s consultation on remote audits ended last Monday, so we are expecting them to publish this change to the guidance imminently.  We are presuming that this allow BRC to reinstate the previous version of Position Statement 072, to allow remote audits. Given the UK Governments announcement, it may mean that some Certification Bodies may take the decision to switch back to face to face audits.

7th May Update

UK Government issue process for key workers to request a test, just press to start: https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

For employers to request an employer portal for testing email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk

Ireland’s 5 step plan for lifting lockdown: https://inews.co.uk/news/coronavirus-ireland-five-step-plan-lifting-lockdown-copied-uk-2842970

Insight into the vaccine creation process: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-vaccine-the-race-to-keep-millions-safe-from-covid-19-11968262

6th May Update

Christeyns webinar recording on Coronavirus and cleaning: https://we.tl/t-ceT8fDxIaH

BRC have published a 15 point checklist: https://www.brcgs.com/media/2082519/15-point-manufacturer-checkllist.pdf

UK Government have published guidance regarding fraud scams that are targeting businesses: COVID-19+Mandate+Fraud+Guidance

SALSA have extended their date for certificate extensions to the end of May: SPP COVID 0520 V3

CB Feedback has been updated, links below.

5th May Update

Primority webinar: COVID19 and its Effect on the GFSI Ecosystem (which may include someone you know…)

 

BRC fees

BRC have confirmed to us that there are introducing a fee for certificate extensions from 1st June.  This will be £250 which is proportional to 6 months of their normal service fee.  They have launched a new voluntary module especially for COVID-19 which is another £200. Details of the fees and the new module are detailed here: BRCGS Covid-19 New Products

There will be an increase to their service fee from August of £75. Taking the new fee from £500 to £575. BRC have provided us with details of their new service package:

  • “Corporate brand licence for B2B promotion
  • ETRS risk assessment and guidance
  • Unlimited registrants to the BRCGS Professional Development Programme
  • Two BRCGS Participate licences to access all technical content
  • Licence to trade with customers
  • Unlimited access to BRCGS technical and support teams
  • Technical benchmarked reports by standard and category (available August 2020)
  • Food safety culture tool to test how the assessment works (available August 2020)
  • ESG benchmarking reports (available late 2020, early 2021)”

 

Industry organisations round-up

The following have been highlighted as doing an amazing job by one of our techies, who said:

“The AHDB, British Growers and the NFU have all been fantastic in lobbying the government as well as bringing together information, advice and guidance for their members. There have been regular video calls between British Growers and each of the member groups to get information from growers and packers they can feed back to the government and use to shape policies and guidance. AHDB have produced brilliant guidance for on farm practical issues, and the NFU have daily updates for any financial advice or updates that could affect the industry. The call for labour on farms has been a great effort by all of these bodies.”

ADHB have also developed a specific part of the website to house all their coronavirus information, guidance, webinars, podcasts, market information and lots, lots more!

British Growers have also developed part of their website especially for coronavirus information and have done some amazing work in working towards a solution for the current labour issue, including the Pick for Britain campaign.

NFU have also implemented a part of their website just for coronavirus information.

We would also like to highlight the following industry bodies who have stepped up to the challenge and provided great support to the industry:

IFST, has provided a wealth of free information for members and non-members, through a new specialist section of their website called COVID-19 Knowledge Hub, updates and webinars.

SOFHT have provided a number of webinars to members and non-members, called Focus Live! Covid-19 Ongoing Management & Control

There seems to be a theme with all of the above organisations – where they’ve developed their websites to meet the needs of the industry and focused their attention on providing everyone with free information.  It’s times like these when you can really see the wheat from the chaff.  Times are going to be hard in the future, as the world goes into recession – so it’s really important to remember those who supported us through the difficult times.

4th May Update

Today is the final day to submit your feedback to GFSI for the proposal to include the use of technology to conduct remote audits: https://mygfsi.com/news_updates/stakeholder-consultation-new-gfsi-benchmarking-requirements-on-ICT

BRC service fees: I have had reports that BRC will be charging for certificate extensions and that there will also be a service fee increase from August this year. We’ve asked BRC if they can confirm if this is true. We will let you know!

Symptoms of the virus are not just a cough and temperature.  Other symptoms include loss of taste, loss of smell, stomach upset, headache.  GPs have been provided with the following information  by the National LMC (local medical councils) to help them assess cases. These symptoms should be included when we are assessing staff health. To download these images, just click on them to open the full size, then right click on the image and choose ‘save image as’.

 

 

 

 

Other countries are starting to publish their plans about how they are going to manage the end of lock down, which we can learn from.  Portugal, Italy

1st May Update

GFSI have begun their consultation for the use of technology to conduct remote audits, see the proposal and make comments: https://mygfsi.com/news_updates/stakeholder-consultation-new-gfsi-benchmarking-requirements-on-ICT

Industry bodies and memberships: We thought it would be interesting to carry out a review of industry bodies and the support that they have provided their members (and non members) during this difficult time. If your membership body has done something great, we’d love to hear about it.  Please get in touch with any feedback that you have.

BRC Certificate extension feedback – please remember to fill in the forms to give feedback on how your CB has handled your certificate extension and also which NCNs you got. Forms are below. We’ll be reviewing this weeks data and providing it back to you on Monday.

30th April Update

AHDB Best practices to avoid the spread of coronavirus for seasonal workers on fruit and vegetable farms: https://ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing-farm-businesses

Red Tractor have launched their remote audit protocol this week: https://assurance.redtractor.org.uk/contentfiles/Farmers-7107.pdf?_=637237503814346195

Future possible BRC requirements: we have had feedback from a site that they were told by their auditor that the following may become a requirement in the future:

  • extra signs to be put up on hand washing; time and technique.
  • capturing the common touch point cleaning like door handles
  • extra hand sanitisers at touch points and delivery points
  • using a thermometer to body check temperatures
  • list out the essential services allowed on site, such as pest control and any risk mitigations

It would interesting to know if anyone else has heard anything similar?

BRC Certificate extension feedback – please remember to fill in the forms to give feedback on how your CB has handled your certificate extension and also which NCNs you got. Forms are below. 

29th April Update

GSFI scheme round-up and comparison

IFS are providing a remote check, which is available to sites as an optional solution for assurance following certificate expiry, as they are not extending certificates: https://www.ifs-certification.com/images/ifs-tools/documents/IFS_Remote_Surveillance_Check_Guidance_V2_EN_final.pdf

IFS have not provided any other guidance for their sites during this difficult time.

Primus GFS certificate extension guidance: http://primusgfs.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/PGFS-R-052-R0-PrimusGFS-Temporary-Guidance-for-Issuing-Six-Month-Certificate-Extensions.pdf

Primus GFS also is not providing their sites any COVID-19 guidance.

FSSC 22000 provides a very confusing statement, which doesn’t really clarify whether certificate extensions are available or not.  But does clearly state that remote audits are not an option: https://www.fssc22000.com/news/position-in-relation-to-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/

The FSSC 22000 website does not provide any help to their sites and what information is provided is confusing.

SQF guidance on certificate extension: https://www.sqfi.com/sqf-policy-on-extending-certifications/

SQF have developed a specific place on their website it provide their sites with guidance on what to do about their certificates, links to (other company) resources and FAQs.  Unfortunately, nothing developed by SQF themselves for their sites: https://www.sqfi.com/covid-19-guidance-for-sqf-stakeholders/

BRC certificate extension guidance: https://www.brcgs.com/media/2082456/2532020-update-brc072-brcgs-audits-impacted-by-covid-19-v3.pdf

BRC have also developed a specific part of their website to provide sites with useful FAQs and have also developed a range of their own guidance information to help sites:

https://www.brcgs.com/resources/covid-19-response/

https://www.brcgs.com/resources/covid-19-response/brcgs-technical-information-child-page/

BRCGS Managing Food Safety during Covid-19: https://www.brcgs.com/media/2082499/food-safety-covid-19-guideline-free-002.pdf

BRCGS webinar COVID-19: (just pop your email address in to get access): https://view6.workcast.net/?pak=6134101747153305&cpak=8274974536857970

Global GAP guidance on certificate extensions: https://www.globalgap.org/uk_en/media-events/news/articles/Coronavirus-and-GLOBALG.A.P.-Certification-What-You-Need-to-Know/

There’s not a lot of information on the Global GAP website, but they have provided a podcast and also information on their public consultation about remote audits: https://www.globalgap.org/uk_en/media-events/news/corona-virus-updates/index.html

So, in summary:  IFS and GSF are not providing any support to their.  FSSC is confusing.  Coming out top seems to be BRC, who are obviously working really hard to support their sites during this time.

 

BRC Certificate extension feedback – please remember to fill in the forms to give feedback on how your CB has handled your certificate extension and also which NCNs you got. Forms are below. 

28th April Update

IFST have set up an advisory group: https://www.ifst.org/membership/networks-and-communities/covid-19-advisory-group

Christeyns Food Hygiene are conducting a webinar about how we can tackle the virus with cleaning chemicals: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/christyens-food-hygiene-uk_christeyns-food-hygiene-is-pleased-to-offer-activity-6660574920872988672-YKeH

Hospitality businesses are planning to reopen after the Governments furlough scheme finishes at the end of June. Which should get the wholesale food supply chain back up and running, if not very slowly… https://www.insider.co.uk/news/greggs-announces-plans-reopen-looks-21933389

BRCGS webinar COVID-19: What you need to know in Food Safety recording, just pop your email address in to get access: https://view6.workcast.net/?pak=6134101747153305&cpak=8274974536857970

BRCGS GUIDANCE DOCUMENT Managing Food Safety during Covid-19 which is really worth a read: https://www.brcgs.com/media/2082499/food-safety-covid-19-guideline-free-002.pdf

27th April Update

23rd April Update

UK Government launch 3 new labs for testing: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/britain-s-biggest-network-of-diagnostic-labs-are-completed-in-5-weeks

HSE provide guidance on dust control where face masks are not available: https://press.hse.gov.uk/2020/04/21/open-letter-to-the-food-industry-during-coronavirus-outbreak/?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_term=foodmanufacturing&utm_content=digest-22-apr-20

SALSA have extended their restrictions on auditing until 11th May: https://www.salsafood.co.uk/downloads/SPP%20COVID%200320%20V2.pdf

Further SALSA guidance on what to do about postponing or cancelling audits is also available: https://www.salsafood.co.uk/about.php?p=5

Hand dryer discussion:  Hand dryers (especially high power ones) have always been a bit of debate – do they spread infection or not? In today’s world it’s even more pertinent.  We are yet to convinced that they do not pose a risk, surely the traditional approach of paper towels is the right way to go. What are your views?  Does anyone know of any evidence that validates them?

Certification Body feedback: We have now updated this and have now included CB audit feedback for the food Standard.  When we have enough data we’ll do the other Standards too.  We’re trying to find a balance between providing you with detail, while making it easy to digest. If there’s anything you particularly want to see – please let us know.

When will BRC audits recommence? We have had a report from one site, that their CB is going ahead with their audit on 16th May “as they expect to be back at work.”.  This is putting the site and the Technical Manager under unnecessary pressure and worry.  It would be useful for BRCGS to confirm what date (like SALSA have done) audits will not be conducted to, so that CBs and sites are clear. We have contacted BRCGS to ask if this is possible.

BRC Non-conformances for Coronavirus

We are now starting to see NCNs come through for Coronavirus issues. One site has been given a non-conformance for notification of illness – because:

“Furloughed staff are being paid 100% of wages. Staff who were to show symptoms and self-isolate are being given statutory sick pay. The auditor thought this would promote people to lie about having symptoms and still come to work for fear of job/wage security.”

Hopefully this NCN will get removed during the technical review, because how can you apply corrective and preventive action to mitigate someone lying?  What are your thoughts?

Remember to complete the NCN trending form, for any NCNs you get during the certificate extension process.  We will be able to trend NCNs specifically assigned to Coronavirus.  Links to the food and packaging forms are below. We’ll set up ones for Agents & Brokers and Storage & Distribution today.

22nd April Update

IFST are doing another webinar this morning at 11am, to answer all the questions that they didn’t have time to answer from the last webinar: https://www.ifst.org/events/901/ifst-sc20-webinar-series-coronavirus-food-safety-risk-your-questions-answered

CIB have developed a coronavirus hub where you can listen to their daily webinar recordings: https://www.cbi.org.uk/coronavirus-hub/

Certification Body feedback: Today we’ll be working on developing the audit side of your feedback, so look out for that tomorrow.

Techni-K Smart Knowledge: Tomorrow we’ll be working on articles for you, we’ve had requests to cover virtual auditing, if there’s anything else you like us to cover, please just let us know.

SALSA audits are being replaced with certificate extensions until 30th April, we’ll be speaking to SALSA today to find out what happens after the end of this month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6Chi6QvG4&feature=youtu.be

AIC trade assurance schemes FAQs: https://www.agindustries.org.uk/coronavirus/assurance/trade-assurance-schemes-faqs/?preview=true

21st April Update

Certification Body fees: The data keeps coming in for the certificate extensions, thank you to those who have filled in the form. When your extension is due, your fellow techies would really appreciate it, if you share your feedback.  The form and the results are below.

Pick for Britain recruitment campaign is launched: https://pickforbritain.org.uk/

UK Government to extend testing to key workers in the food industry when testing capacity allows: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-extend-testing-for-coronavirus-to-more-frontline-workers

Beanstalk.Global subject today at 11am: Will Grocery Retail Be Disrupted By Coronavirus Ongoing?

17th April Update

UK Government extension to the lock down for at least another 3 weeks

Migrant Help have provided translated information for key workers where English isn’t their first language: https://www.migranthelpuk.org/translated-support

Lion Code audits: Although the BEIC has decided not to make a statement, what we have said publicly is: “As a result of the Covid-19 situation physical Lion Code audits have stopped and been replaced by remote audits utilising live video feed.” I’m just speaking with them to understand what will happen if the site doesn’t have the facilities to do this, and if same solution of remote audits is being applied to farm as well as to processing sites. More feedback to follow.

Certification Body fees: Thank you to those who have completed the form, the more data we get the better the quality of the results will be. If you haven’t filled in the form and you have been quoted for your certificate extension by your CB, please do so. Links are below.

16th April Update

BRCGS certificate extension fees update: We have now started to receive feedback from you about your Certification Bodies. We have provided this initial information for you to see. Please bear in mind, that as the quantity of feedback increases, the quality and breadth of the information we provide to you will improve. So, you need to take this into consideration when looking at the information.  However, we felt it was important to get the initial information out to you now.  We are hoping that this will perhaps trigger some of the Certification Bodies to reconsider the fees that they are charging.

15th April Update

BRCGS certificate extension fees update: Please share with us and your fellow Techie’s what your Certification Body is charging you for your certificate extension.  We will use this information to provide it back to you, so you can make an informed decision about which Certification Body you would like to use in the future – when you are able to change CB.  Hopefully, those that are charging unjustifiably high fees will also reconsider – when this information is made public. And as you would probably expect from us by now, you can share this information without fear of anyone knowing that you did. We will not share your site or personal details.

Provide your Certification Body fees

French and German Coronavirus videos are now available: https://techni-k.co.uk/coronavirus-explainer-video/

IFST webinar video “Coronavirus: Food Safety Risk?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmLidgPybN0

14th April Update

BRCGS certificate extension fees update: BRCGS have confirmed that they can’t control what the Certification Bodies charge, and that they ask their partners (certification bodies) to act responsibly in this period of distribution.  Thank you to everyone who got in touch to tell me about their CB. Apparently, one CB has waived the charge all together, which is amazing – but unfortunately I’ve not been able to get that particular CB to confirm it yet.  We had no direct contact from any of the CB’s.

So, we’ve come up with a solution! We are going to create a questionnaire for you to complete each time you get your new certificate – which assesses the quality of your Certification Body, and we’ll provide that information back to you in real-time and without any of the site information on it. So, you can see what each of the Certification Bodies is like.  That way you can assess cost compared to quality.  The system will work in the same way as the NCN trending information that we provide to you.

We know that BRCGS give the Certification Bodies a star rating, but this is based on metrics that are important to BRCGS and not necessarily metrics that are important to you.  If there is anything you would specifically like in these metrics, please let us know – either in the comments below or email Kassy.

Coronavirus video: We’re working on French and German versions today, so come back later if you’d like a copy.

9th April Update

BRCGS podcast on: COVID-19: Assessing the Impacts on the Food Industry

BRCGS certificate extension fees update: we have not received any further information on this topic, from any of the Certification Bodies. We are going to contact BRCGS today to see if we can get them involved.  And, we are using this forum to ask directly to the Certification Bodies, to please get in touch. We know that there are some great Certification Bodies out there, who are working with ethics and transparency.  So to those Certification Bodies, we would love to feature you on here. Sites may not be able to change CB at this time, to get their certificate extended, but we believe the good work that you do now – won’t be forgotten in the future.  Sites – please make sure your CB knows about this, as they may not read this.  Please forward this to them.  Please contact Kassy directly – kassy.marsh@techni-k.co.uk

Red Lion audits: We have contacted the British Egg Industry Council, for confirmation – but it has been reported that they are still looking to conduct Red Lion audits.  Further details to follow.

Beanstalk.Global webinar: We look to predict the future “landscape” for the fresh food sectors post Covid-19

8th April Update

BRCGS Certificate extension costs:  Unfortunately over the week I’ve had a number of reports that Certification Bodies are charging huge fees for certificate extensions. Yesterday, one of our Technie’s reported to me that their certification body had quoted them a whopping £2,000.

BRCGS are not charging the certification bodies for these certificate extensions, therefore the full charge is defined by the certification body totally by themselves.

I can imagine that because this has come into place quickly, the certification bodies may be struggling to work out what to charge, but the variation in these charges are huge – ranging from £300 to £2,000 for one certificate extension.

As sites have to stay with their current certification body to extend their certificates, those sites stuck with a certification body who charge very high fees – have not choice but to pay them, if the CB won’t reconsider. However, it’s times like these where we see who works with ethics in mind and which companies don’t.

Our advice: Challenge your certification body about the fee, if you feel it is unjustifiably high.  If they will not reconsider, then unfortunately you’ll have to pay it. However, please keep this in mind when we get out of the other side of this – and look to change certification body when you can.

I’m also really pleased to report that BRCGS has also started to reorganise their website, so that there is more accessible information on COVID-19, they’ve created one page now that you can access all their information from: https://www.brcgs.com/resources/covid-19-response/

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

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

Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association guidance: NIFDA Good Manufacturing Practice Covid-19

UK Government advice about the current rapid tests that are on sale

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

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.

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

27th March Update

FSA have published guidance

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

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.

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”

25th March Update

5:25pm: BRCGS have published a new position statement

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.

24th March Update

Remote audit update

GFSI publish updated and enforced position statement (see 16th March statement)

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

UK Government action plan

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.

Further details on the emergency bill

19th March Update

We have published an article on how we need to take a different approach, to ensure that the shelves stay stocked: The war on Coronavirus #keeptheshelvesstocked

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

FDA Q&A

Update from UK Government

Update from UK Government on risk level and numbers

NHS guidance on when and how long to stay at home

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

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. British Medical Journal guidance.

SALSA audits cancelled from 1st to 30th April: SALSA IMPORTANT INFORMATION

16th March Update

UK Government stay at home advice

UK Government advice for businesses

Techni-K clients:
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

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

SQF are deferring audits

IFS have published their position

FSSC 22000 position statement

NHS England advice: CEM_CMO_2020_008.pdf

Camfil have published guidance on air filtration

12th March Update

BRCGS have published guidance about audits BRC072 Audits impacted by covid-19

UK Government website is providing current advice and the governments response to the virus

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance and advice

Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) advice

European Food Safety Authority have stated that there is no evidence that coronavirus can’t survive on food, as it needs a host

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

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, have published a position statement on audits: BRC072 BRCGS Audits impacted by Covid-19 12_03_20

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

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.


Have your say…

87 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?

    1. Remember you need the persons permission to take their temperature even if it is with a non touch reader, we cannot insist they allow it.

  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

        1. I’ve just been quoted £1050 + VAT for ours. They said they are charging a one day rate. The person who phoned me was not in accounts but this is what he’s seen internally. I’ll challenge it, but I don’t expect a move.

  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!

  33. What about refusing to pay anything more that whatever you deem to be reasonable for the extension review and forcing it back to BRCGS? I agree with you Kassy about identifying the businesses that carry moral ethics as their benchmark in ways to behave so it’s time we called those greedy ones out. Or, let the certificate lapse? I know what I wish I could do. I’m beginning now to understand M&S’s view on the BRC scheme.

    1. Is there a way to collate information on what sites are being charged so we can all make an informed decision about which auditing body to move to after this is over? When I took over my role I just carried on using the same auditing body as I have no idea how you work out which one might be better than others (money and the way the audit is conducted), and we generally had a good selection of auditors come our way.

      1. Yes I think we could do that.
        Sites could provide the information to us anonymously and we could then provide that information back to you – like we do for the BRC NCN trending information.
        I think that’s a great idea Rebecca. BRC provide a star rating, but unfortunately that’s not based on KPIs that are important to the sites.
        We’ll definitely do this for you!

  34. I will caveat my response to the BRC fees feedback – I could only give a star rating for communication and not for the auditing side because I haven’t actually had the extension audit yet, just booked and a price. I don’t know how many others are in the same boat.
    Interesting though, the big players are charging more.
    Thanks for doing this Kassy, really useful,

  35. Morning,
    Thanks for another useful update.

    My comment though is that I am not sure that face to face audits can be insisted on by certification bodies given the guidance is to:
    – stay at home as much as possible
    – go to work only if it is not possible to carry out that work at home.

    Also, the devolved Governments are not changing their messages.

    The industry needs a consistent approach.

    1. Morning Carol
      Agreed, but I know of some audits that are booked and (so far) are going ahead in July….
      We shall see 🙂

  36. I have had a query from our facilities cleaner this morning who has asked that if we are required to wear disposable face masks, how we will dispose of them? I have read the BRC guidance and the WHO guidance and all of the others and they either do not address disposal or say throw them in a closed bin without touching the front. My cleaner asks what protection I can put in place as she is the one to empty the bins. Can they go in general waste? Are they hazardous materials and as such need removing by specialist waste removal?

    1. Hi Sarah
      They are not hazardous no – so they can go in the normal waste. Your cleaner needs to follow the general prinicples of wearing PPE themselves, and wash their hands after they empty the bins. My recommendation would be to get employees to put their face masks in one specific bin, which has a foot operated lid. That way they are contained and they don’t need to touch the lid to open it. Perhaps you could put the bin outside the factory exit, so that it’s in the open air too. Plus you don’t want your employees taking their face mask off before they get outside.
      Be interesting to hear if anyone else can add anything?
      Kassy

      1. As masks are liekly to be worn by asymptomatic people in the work place who arent aware they have the virus, all masks should be treated as infectious to ensure no cross contamination. If someone with the virus wore a mask for 2 hours and didnt dispose correctly, there has to be a significant risk there?

  37. Face Masks…
    Have just read the face mask updates and thought I’d mention a couple of things. It’s seemingly suggested that masks are treated similarly to hair nets where they are kept on throughout the day… easy for a hairnet, difficult for something covering your mouth; smoking, eating and drinking. I’m not too sure how the beard snood would be an effective covering for a face mask as it’s full of holes. It would be expensive but I’d have to suggest that there are area masks… people in low risk can wear a mask and cover it with a different mask (different colours would be great) if they needed to go into high care/risk. This could be disposed of on exit of that area. The low risk or general mask could then be pulled down around the neck for when people need to eat etc. This would be the same as wearing safety boots outside and still being able to go in to a low risk zone. The same can be practiced for office staff who would have even less of an issue with it all. I say it could be expensive but a company would be sensible to limit the access to different zones more than usual (no factory meetings, dedicated QA’s, walkie-talkie usage and calling people out to the changing areas to talk etc.). That would be my ‘stab’ at it!

  38. I was just reading your update on the BRC Face Mask Guidance. First of all, your updates are really helpful, and I’ve been finding they help keep me updated and in touch with the food world at large, so thanks for doing them!

    I have a couple of comments on your assessment of the guidance, from a Health and Safety practitioner’s perspective. The guidance appears to make sense for re-usable PPE face masks (such as this one: https://www.arco.co.uk/products/168700?s=1). These will need to be dedicated, and the rubber parts cleaned and sanitised appropriately. They are normally supplied with instructions on how to carry this out, and this should not be a change for people who wear these masks regularly already, as they are prone to getting a bit manky in day to day use. The removable filters should be treated with care, as they cannot be cleaned, but they are caged inside a plastic housing, which can be cleaned.

    My suggested protocol is to supply packs of individually wrapped single-use face masks in high-risk/high-care (HRHC) areas, to be opened and used only in the HRHC areas. The masks can be decanted into a plastic dispenser in the HRHC area, and treated the same as beard snoods, as suggested (single use only, dispose on exit, etc). These disposable masks are designed for single wear use, and should not be reused – particularly when being used to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19. Cleaning in this instance becomes a moot point, as they are worn and treated in the same way as beard snoods.

    For reusable masks, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning. The masks should be issued for use by specific individuals (1 mask dedicated to one person) and remain in the HRHC area, and filters should be replaced in a controlled manner within the HRHC change area. The masks themselves can be cleaned and sanitised with sanitising wipes and should be stored hygienically in between uses.

    Sites should assess for themselves whether the masks provide a benefit, as there is not good evidence that masks are very effective in preventing spread of Covid-19 in short exposure situations. Where people are in prolonged close proximity or if ventilation is poor, masks may be required. It is also important that the purpose of mask wearing is clear – they help to keep asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 from passing on infection (i.e. if you have it and don’t know, they help to prevent you passing it on through air droplets coming from your own mouth and nose), and are not very effective at stopping the virus itself once it is in the air.

    It is also important to stress that masks cannot help if they are not properly face fitted – they should form a good seal around the whole of the mask, and are incompatible with even short stubble. Guidance on wear is of huge importance here, and there are WHO videos on when and how to wear a mask. (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks)

    I have blog on this on my website, which you can feel free to link to (https://integraquality.co.uk/blog/behind-the-mask) if you want to direct people to a H&S guide to Face Masks.

  39. I think wearing masks would cause issues as people will not wear them properly and handle round their face more, unless it is really necessary to wear them then I think each site would need to risk assess if it is better to enforce handwashing etc

  40. I totally agree with you Jacqui. Factories have worked safely without masks to-date and the introduction now pose many issues which do not obviously outweigh the limited advantages. If one of the key controls to restricting the spread of the virus is hand washing then that will become even more critical as staff touch the mask – and most of that touching will be in an absent minded way so not followed by hand washing.

  41. The only reason anyone is wearing a mask/face covering is in situations where a) the task is critical to operations and must go ahead, and b) the task cannot be completed with usual distancing in place (2m distancing, facing away etc.).
    For the majority of sites and operations masks aren’t going to be required, but for that small percentage there has to be controls in place.
    You would hope this is such a small number of people and areas that the business could provide simple disposable face coverings specifically for that task/area that could be removed on exit through usual handwashing/changing areas. If not then snoods seem a good idea – very breathable and you can buy ones which aren’t full of holes. Double masks is just asking for breathing difficulty.

    The general public are only advised (not told) to wear masks in places such as public transport and small enclosed shops where it is unlikely you can distance. I can’t find rock solid science on how effective they are at preventing spread from asymptomatic individuals – event the WHO guidance suggests this.

    The only other problem I see is staff who insist they should be able to wear a mask, I don’t know how the law holds up on a business asking them not to.

    1. I agree Rebecca. My husbands place are issuing the proper H&S face visors to those who have to do critical roles where the 2m distance cannot be achieved. That way they can be easily cleaned before the next use.

    1. Really nice guy from NSF did the call. No non-cons, no awkward questions. Plenty of prep and uploaded lots of info for him to review prior – a good day.

  42. If the track and trace works in the way described, this could wipe out our whole workforce in a day, effectively shutting the business.
    Mobile phones are forbidden from the process areas for a variety of reasons, some food safety, others are to keep peoples mind on the job – not on social media. There would be a huge reluctance to change this rule and every bit of signage around the site which states otherwise.
    Not sure what the answer is, but this sounds bad.

  43. The app is not launched yet in England, just in Isle of Wight. Although the Test and Trace system kicks off in England, using a team of 25,000 contact tracers who will make phone calls – to track down people who will be told to self-isolate under the new system. This is a risk for businesses which follows the BRCGS rules as Ian described. Awaiting for BRCGS response..

  44. Has anyone had a full on site audit or been approached for one?
    One of my packaging suppliers was due in May but opted to wait to have a full on site audit when it was possible – and they had it last week all as normal.

    I’m just wondering what the official line is on this at the moment? As far as I’m aware all the farm based audits are remote (M&S F2F is still on 3 month extension) and at least one retailer is planning remote audits. BRC I’m not clear on – we had the 6 month extension risk assessment in May.

    1. I’ve heard of them going ahead – yes. But it’s up to the site and the CB to agree if it’s possible I believe.

  45. We have opted to have the full site audit, as we see any other type is a waste of everyone’s time and not representative of operations. A lot of our customers feel the same, and a compromised audit would be seen as a compromised grade (either positively or negatively).
    We have out full audit as normal next week, which seems the best idea now that it is possible to do so.

  46. If any audit can have procedures and documentation reviewed remotely then I think that is a good thing.As a small site that used to have to fill 2 days auditing (now 2.5!) I would spend at least a day watching the auditor look through procedures and policies. A timed trace could even be achieved remotely which would be very useful as I used to have to pick someone to escort the auditor round the site while I rush the trace through.
    Use of video for the inspection of operations is always going to be hit and miss, and you could argue that its easier to miss things – but it depends how that is managed by the auditing body.
    A blended approach – done well – seems sensible. But we have to see how the auditing bodies and BRC manage it.
    Farm based audits are happening remotely – with all the fun of rural outdoor phone signal, and from what I hear it may be a permanent change.

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