BRC Food Safety Certification Audit Consulting

What is BRC Food Safety Certification?

BRC stands for British Retail Consortium. This is a Food Safety Standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is an association of food safety experts from over 95 countries, come together to fix benchmarks in food safety. These benchmarks shall be followed to obtain certification to food safety standard which is globally acceptable. BRC certification is one of them. BRC food safety standard is now revised to version 8.

BRC Global Standard has following Minimum fundamental requirements to be complied with:

  • Top management commitment and involvement
  • Management of external providers and suppliers of packaging materials
  • The food safety plan, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)
  • Periodic Internal Audits/ Auditors to be qualified in Food Sciences or equivalent Bio Sciences
  • Traceability
  • Optimized Plant Layout, Process flow and Segregation
  • Corrective and Preventive Actions
  • Management of Allergens
  • House Keeping and Hygiene
  • Control of Operations
  • Accuracy of Labelling and Pack Control
  • Training of personnel in raw material handling, Preparation, Control of processes, storage and Transportation

Grading System in BRC Global Standard

Grade During Unannounced Audit Grading During Announced Audits Critical Findings Major Nonconformities Minor Nonconformities
AA+ AA+ 5 or Fewer
A+ A 6-10
B+ B 11-16
B+ B 1 <10
C+ C 17-24
C+ C 1 11-16
C+ C 2 <10
D+ D 24-30
D+ D 1 17-24
D+ D 2 11-16
No Certification No Certification 1
Audit frequency for B and above will be 12 months
Audit frequency for C and below will be every 6 months till A or A+ grade is earned

BRC Food Safety Standard

Why BRC certification and why not other GFSI recognized standard is purely the choice of the Facility. However normally the choice is based on customer preference based on the popularity of the standard in the region where customers are located.

BRC is a retailer driven standard and is to be chosen if the final client is a retailer in an European country

BRC had not included risk-based controls but in this version 8 Risk analysis which includes Risk Identification, risk assessment and risk mitigation is included. now attaches significant importance to risk based preventive controls thus meeting the requirements of Final rule in Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

BRC mandates the auditors to be at a minimum a graduate of Food or equivalent Bio Sciences. BRC mandates that Food Safety Leader be trained to have in-depth knowledge of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Hazard Analysis Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC)

QSE recommends that facilities may opt for BRC version 8 if they can arrange to have a graduate in Food or Bio sciences to be the Food Safety Leader and if their final client is a retailer located in European country

Please refer to comparative table in “summary of food safety management” on this web site for a comparative table for decision making on  food safety standard to be selected for your facility

Any Facility engaged in food manufacture, food storage or food transportation or food packaging and forms a part of the food supply chain exporting to European countries should get certified to BRC, one of GFSI recognized food safety standards.

  • Check if BRC Certification is relevant to you:
    • Are you into food manufacturing business?
    • Are you involved in food processing for retail marketing?
    • Does your business require any food storage?
    • Is your business involved in food transportation?
    • Are you into food packaging and supply business?
    • Are you exporting to European countries?
    • Is your final user a retailer in a European country?

Below are the key phases of BRC Certification process

  • Pre-Audit using BRC Audit checklists (This is Optional)
  • Actual BRC Audit by Certification Authority
  • Follow up BRC Audit (If required) depending on Observations
  • Issue of BRC Certification

BRC Standards cover following topics:

  • Senior management responsibility
  • Quality and food safety management system
  • Resource management
  • Planning and production process
  • Measurements, analysis, improvements
  • Food Defense

By leveraging vast experience, it has, QSE organizes the entire BRC certification process into micro activities and help its customers at each step of the entire process

Forming the team and Identification of BRC Team Leader:

BRC-8 certification process starts with the formation of an internal food safety team within the facility and select BRC food safety team leader out of the team. BRC Food Safety Team Leader may use BRC Consultant, or BRC Consulting Services, BRC Training Services, and Internal BRC Auditing Services from a competent company such as QSE with vast experience and competence for successful BRC certification

Training and Mentoring the BRC Food Safety Team Leader/BRC Practitioner:

QSE’s BRC consultants train the leader to become a BRC food safety team leader/BRC Practitioner which is a mandatory requirement. QSE also helps BRC Food Safety Team Leader/ BRC Practitioner to institute HACCP and HARPC which is a mandatory requirement

Design BRC Food Safety Management System:

QSE’s BRC consultants train and design a BRC Management System (BRCMS) to institute current good manufacturing practices for the facility to meet certification and BRC audits

Preparation of BRC Audit Checklist:

QSE’s BRC consultants prepare BRC audit checklists to be followed by the facilities to ensure that all knock out conditions described in various clauses of BRC Standard are scored at a minimum level of A or higher

  • Any score below A is discovered during internal BRC audits done by QSE. QSE ensures that the factors leading to low score are eliminated and BRC compliance is ensured at a level of A

Prepare Comprehensive Documentation:

QSE’s BRC consultants can prepare comprehensive documentation under BRCMS to create evidence on BRC food safety activities

  • QSE’s BRC consultants have special documentation for foreign supplier verification program (FSVP) for imports from Canada, China, Mexico and other countries
  • QSE’s BRC consultants include exclusive documentation for allergen control
  • QSE documentation includes mock recalls to ensure operativity of recall system,
  • QSE documentation includes special additional requirements covered on BRC-8
  • QSE has a simplified single level documentation system which is unique, for British retailer’s consortium management systems (BRCMS)
  • Documentation developed by QSE guarantees BRC compliance for any select module applicable for the facility.
  • The documentation can be submitted as a voluntary disclosure by the facility to obtain clearance from certifying body before their visit to the facility

Conduct Internal BRC Food Safety Audits:

QSE conducts a comprehensive internal BRC audit by certified and competent BRC auditors to verify the accuracy and adequacy of documentation which is a requirement before BRC audit

  • BRC audit by accreditation bodies who are signatories to IAF MLA. QSE can coordinate to arrange with certification bodies to help the facilities

Gap Analysis:

QSE’s BRC consultants conduct extensive gap analysis. The gap analysis report provide exact details on what to be addressed to meet documentation compliance of BRC standard

Assistance to close the gaps:

QSE’s BRC consultants educate and assist the teams on how nonconformities are to be fixed within a specific period of time usually one month

Coaching for Final BRC Audit:

QSE’s BRC consultants organize structured sessions for all stakeholders on how to face the final BRC audit conducted by third-party BRC auditors, comfortably

Support during BRC Audit:

QSE’s BRC consultants provide all kinds of supporting during final BRC audit process to ensure the facility meets all BRC audit requirements. QSE’s BRC consultants provide assistance to facilities during certification/surveillance audits without interfering with BRC auditors

BRC Certification

  • BRC is a comprehensive global food safety standard covering all requirements of the scope, covering areas, legality and product safety
  • BRC Standard is a GFSI standard and hence has universal acceptance
  • BRC Certified facilities appear in publicly available BRC standards directory detailing their achievements of certification
  • BRC certified facilities comply with legislative and regulatory requirements of Food Safety
  • BRC certification ensures that all suppliers adhere to set of food safety certification requirements
  • BRC Standard Provides modules for voluntary audit submissions
  • BRC provides for voluntary audits of select sections, which are graded through both announced and unannounced audits.
  • The better the grade achieved in the BRC audits, the lesser is the frequency of Surveillance audits by certifying bodies.
  • Unmatchable Experience and Expertise:
    • Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. (QSE) is a premier consulting, auditing and training firm engaged in advocating food certifications for over 27 years in USA.
    • QSE provides required training for BRC certification with competent trainers
  • Effective Training and Mentoring:
    • QSE engages competent trainers to conduct all training related to FSSC and other GFSI recognized standards
    • QSE focusses on terms concepts and principles as a foundation to effectively implement BRC standard with interactive style in training sessions. Our training sessions emphasize effective implementation techniques
  • Documentation made Simple:
    • QSE provides a unique simplified documentation system to meet BRC-8 standard requirements which is easy to follow and easy to maintain over the years for compliance to BRC Food standard and maintain BRC-8 certification
  • BRC Audit Checklists that makes difference:
    • QSE helps in preparing a check list food standard requirements which can be used to ensure BRC compliance which are like checklists used by BRC certification body for awarding grade during a certification audit
    • QSE prepared BRC Audit checklist helps facilities to award self-scoring prior to audit to ensure Knock Out conditions do not exist.
  • Efficiency:
    • QSE helps facilities to get BRC certified in the shortest possible time invariable within 6 months using efficient methods and processes
  • BRC Certification Guaranteed:
    • QSE guarantees BRC certification to all facilities willing to follow the proven 10 step disciplined path devised by it
  • Post BRC Audit Support:
    • QSE offers post BRC audit services to advocate the case of the facility to any extent till certification which is seldom available with others
  • Guaranteed BRC certification
    • QSE’s 10-step disciplined path for BRC certification assures BRC certification in the shortest possible time. Usually within 6 months

BRC is chosen mostly because of customer preference

BRC has an objective grading system which can help objective assessment of all processes

BRC is a retailer driven Standard

Certification can be obtained in less than 5-7 months with the cooperation and subject to availability of certifying bodies.

Yes. FSSC and SQF are also GFSI approved standards accepted by manufacturing and process industries in Europe. However packaging industries prefer BRC-PAC or IFS- PAC since they mostly cater to retailer requirements.

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