In this article we’ll be continuing the comparison of BRCGS Standards to IFS, specifically comparing the Agents and Brokers Standards.

If you’d like read back over the previous articles on this topic you can do that here:

Comparison and gap analysis of BRCGS Food Safety and IFS Food

Comparison and gap analysis of BRCGS Packaging and IFS PACSecure

IFS Brokers comparison

Here is the comparison. To make it simple to digest, we’ll follow the same format and divide the information into three headings:

1.      What’s new

2.      What’s different

3.      What’s not included


We’ll only be highlighting the big changes, and where the IFS Standard doesn’t cover a subject, it’ll be covered in, ‘Topics not included’. Where you’re covering small additional requirements in BRCGS, it means you’ll be over compliant for IFS, so we’re not going to worry about the little changes at this stage.


What’s newWhat’s differentTopics not included
1. Senior management commitment
Senior management need to ensure that the QMS is reviewed annually, and whenever there is a change. And, this must be data driven based on verification measures.There must be a procedure for reporting of incidents to customers, including regulatory notices.

The company must inform the CB of any changes that affects the certificate.

Job descriptions are needed.

Topics for the policy include environmental responsibility and sustainability.Culture


2. Document management
A procedure which covers customer expectations and objectives.

Customer contracts are required.

Amendments must be carried out by authorised personnel.
3.Continuous improvement
Procedure for management and verification of corrective actions.

There must be a procedure for management of non-conforming products and notifying relevant parties.

Complaints investigations are required.

The term ‘corrective action’ seems to be used when referring to both corrective and preventive actions. However, the term preventive measures is also used, which is confusing.

There is no definition for preventive measures, but the definitions provided are:

Correction: Action to eliminate a detected non-conformity or deviation.

Corrective action: Action to eliminate the cause of a detected non-conformity, deviation or other undesirable situation.

4. Contingency
Customers need to be notified in the event of serious incidents.
5. Hazard analysis
A procedure which defines the hazard analysis method is required.

It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that their suppliers manage an effective hazard analysis plan.

The HACCP team must have strong senior management support and be well known by staff.The scope of the hazard analysis doesn’t mention quality.
6. Contamination control
7. Product development
A product development procedure is required.

The company must take responsibility of the overall development process.

The company must take responsibility of the product (i.e. not allow the supplier to take sole responsibility).

8. Supplier management
The company must take responsibility for ensuring that materials and suppliers do not pose a risk to the product.

Product must be checked against specification at a frequency based on the risk of the supplier.

All suppliers must be GFSI certified.
9. Testing


Testing in line with customer requirements must be conducted.
10. Maintenance
11. Product defence
Vulnerability assessment includes packaging.

Product defence lead and a vulnerability team is required, with defined responsibilities and training.

It’s the responsibility of the company to ensure that suppliers must complete the necessary risk assessments.

Tamper procedures.

12. Training
13. Personnel
14. Site standards
15. Microbiologically controlled facilities
16. Hygiene
17. Process control
Sample traceability must be maintained.
18. Storage & distribution
Logistics suppliers must be GFSI certified.



  • Like the food comparison IFS is a lot less wordy than BRCGS.
  • The IFS Standard is proving to be very consistent across the different subjects. Because it’s based on risk, the application of the Standard is the same.
  • IFS isn’t as prescriptive as BRCGS, so it’s open to interpretation (rightly or wrongly).
  • There is no interpretation guide for IFS.
  • The IFS Standard focuses much more on the site understanding their own risks and developing systems to meet them, rather than prescribing what’s right.
  • For agents and brokers there is much more emphasis on ensuring the broker takes responsibility, rather than relying on the manufacturer. This means that the broker must act as a verifier to the supplier, checking and retaining evidence of the suppliers compliance.


What do you think?

So, what are your thoughts on IFS and the work that would be needed?

What do you think about the additional requirements?

What do you think about the topics that are not included?

Share your thoughts with your fellow techie’s and add them to the comments box below.

Have your say…

4 thoughts on “Comparison and gap analysis of BRCGS Agents & Brokers with IFS Brokers

    1. Hi Philip,
      Thank you, I’m glad it’s of use. I’ll have a think about the cost element. It’s not straight forward, as costs of audit depend on which CB you choose and the more practical day-to-day elements, I’m not sure I could estimate.

  1. An interesting article and appreciated.

    I now work for an Agent & Broker having worked in manufacturing for the last 12 years. The previous two companies I worked for held both IFS & BRCGS accreditation, at times it was a struggle to find an IFS auditor with the CB we used, as well as IFS being more open to interpretation it led to some frustrating conversations during audits.

    Obtaining IFS would not be daunting with just a little work required to comply.

    Would be interesting to know if manufacturers would have any objections switching from BRCGS A&B to IFS A&B.

  2. Kassy
    We are seriously looking at IFS now you have identified the comparative issues, so costing and CB availability issues would be good. Although you say ‘ There is no interpretation guide for IFS ‘ There is a 6 page Glossary/Definition list whereas any attempt at such in BRCGS standards is sadly lacking so far as our interest in A&B – v – S&D are concerned. IFS at least specifically provides for brokers to exclude logistic & storage operations, which has been the issue we have had with BRCGS.
    A careful comparison of different BRCGS standards points to pretty muddled misuse of words and phrases not helped by any definition clause such as would be found in a legal document. The structure of their standards ideally illustrates the old adage ‘ A Camel is a horse designed by a committee ‘ except their deliberations seem to start with a camel and end with a dromedary.

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