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BRC Food Issue 7: The Main Changes

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, an internationally recognized standard of the British Retail Consortium, has been revised over the course of the year 2014. The new issue will be published in January 2015. To prepare you for this update, we have listed the key changes to the standard below.

Background of the Revision

Since its first publication, the BRC Food Standard went through several revisions to keep it up-to-date with stakeholder expectations and with the GFSI requirements. All standards that are benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are subject to a four-year revision cycle.

One of the main factors driving the revision has been the number public product recalls over recent years. It is therefore not surprising that the requirements for traceability have been revised intensively.

Furthermore, the requirements for food defense, authenticity and food fraud are currently hotly debated at GFSI level, which is in turn reflected in the BRC Food Issue 7 standard.

Significant Changes in BRC Food Issue 7

1. Two new Fundamentals

The so-called Fundamentals are comparable to the K.O.-criteria of IFS and must be complied with at all times. In addition to the ten existing fundamentals in Issue 6, two more fundamentals are introduced in the new issue:

  • Labelling Control: Incorrect or insufficient marking is a common reason for product recalls. To emphasize the importance of this subject, all requirements for labeling have been gathered in one section.  However, the requirements themselves are not new, so the consequences for certified sites will be limited. Labelling Control appears as a new requirement in Section 6.
  • Supplier Management: The company shall have an effective supplier approval and monitoring system to avoid any potential risks from raw materials (including packaging) to the safety, authenticity, legality and quality of the final product. Certification against BRC Agents and Brokers is compulsory for procurements from brokers, IFS Broker may not be considered sufficient.

2. Traceability

Tougher requirements for traceability apply especially to supplier management. Certified sites must not only maintain their own traceability system, but also ensure that their suppliers have an effective traceability system in place. A certification to any of the GFSI recognized standards will be considered sufficient evidence of such a system. A supplier questionnaire will not be regarded as sufficient anymore. During supplier audits, the traceability system must be included in the audit.

3. Authenticity

A documented vulnerability assessment shall be carried out of all raw materials to assess the potential risk of adulteration and to prevent food fraud. This shall take into account the nature of the raw material, economic factors, methods of detection and ease of access to raw materials through the supply chain.

Where raw materials are identified as being at high risk of adulteration appropriate assurance and/or testing processes shall be in place.

4. Extended risk zone concept

In addition to the high risk and high care zones for frozen and chilled products, there will be introduced a new risk category with high care requirements for ambient products. All of the company’s operating units shall be divided into zones and represented in a zone plan. What is new is that even non-production areas such as administration with no contact to the product shall be included in the plans as well.

5. Customer Requirements and Communication

A new point concerns dealing with customer specifications. If there are specific customer requirements, these shall be made known to relevant staff and stakeholders. Appropriate evidence must be maintained.

6. Additional Voluntary Module

The BRC Food Issue 7 standard was designed in such a way as to allow for optional modules. At DQS, we expect UK retailers to make greater use of this option in the future. Modules will be audited together with the core BRC standard, but will not be included in the scope of the Food System Certification. Any non-conformities found do not affect the end result for the regular BRC audit. Some examples of the modules are the additional module for distribution of finished products, the Food Defense Module, the module for the use of food for animal feed or the ASDA module of the British retail chain ASDA.

7. Evaluation System:

An excellence level has been introduced to foster continuous improvement. The new classification “AA” is geared towards sites that have already reached the Grade A. Sites with less than 5 minor non-conformities can achieve the excellence level. The maximum possible number of minors of the previous category A remains unchanged.

Schedule

The new version of the BRC is currently being translated. The issue is expected to be released in all languages without delay on January 1, 2015. Following the publication, the trainings for companies and auditors will be launched. All users of the standard will be audited to Issue 7 from July 1, 2015.

Update – January 7, 2015: the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety has now been published. Click here to read more about the availability of the standard.

Workshops & Training

DQS offers in-house workshops and training sessions to prepare sites for certification to BRC Food Issue 7. Contact us to learn more!

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About the Author

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Director of Marketing & Communication at DQS CFS GmbH

11 Comments

  1. Vik
    08/02/2016 at 18:04

    Hi Dr. Thijs Willaert I am working on a project regarding importing and exporting. The BRC issue 7 does not have much coverage on this. Could you please advise what are the main challenges for a food importer/exporter in relation to the latest BRC audit requirements. I would really appreciate your help.

    Reply »
    • Dr. Thijs Willaert
      Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
      09/02/2016 at 08:53

      Dear Vik, thank you for your question. I'm afraid it exceeds the scope of this article though. As it relates to import and export, perhaps the BRC Agents & Brokers Standard is more relevant to you? All the best, Thijs

      Reply »
  2. A. EDWARDS
    03/03/2015 at 20:02

    Please can you clarify your comment: "....Certification against BRC Agents and Brokers is compulsory for procurements from brokers, IFS Broker may not be considered sufficient.".. My understanding is that BRC is not compulsory for agents and brokers so I am interested in what you mean by the above?

    Reply »
    • Dr. Thijs Willaert
      Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
      05/03/2015 at 08:35

      Dear A. Edwards, thank you for this interesting question. This is indeed not clear from the standard, but was communicated as such during the last BRC conference in London. The background is that BRC Agents and Brokers is currently the only standard for brokers that meets GFSI benchmarking. For IFS Broker V2 benchmarking has not been completed yet. Hope this helps.

      Reply »
  3. Constant
    21/01/2015 at 18:34

    Could I get some clarification on the ambient High Risk area? I've had been told previously by my certification body that this new clause only applies to processes which implements a lethality/kill step during the production process. Other processes such as flour milling would be exempt from this category all together since the flour milling process does not utilize any sort of microbiological kill step in it's processing. Can you confirm or clarify?

    Reply »
    • Dr. Thijs Willaert
      Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
      22/01/2015 at 09:16

      Dear Constant, thank you for your question. We will contact you via e-mail.

      Reply »
  4. Dr. Thijs Willaert
    Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
    15/01/2015 at 07:38

    Dear Clement, thank you for your question. I will check with one of our experts and get back to you.

    Reply »
  5. clement griffiths
    14/01/2015 at 21:04

    Was there also a change to Exclusions ? We have a frozen bread line that is BRC compliant but our muffin mix line is currently excluded. Since the muffin line is not in a dedicated area I believe it cannot be excluded under Version 7. Is this correct?

    Reply »
    • Dr. Thijs Willaert
      Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
      16/01/2015 at 14:58

      Dear Clement, yes, your assumption is correct. A quick comparison between the two: - Issue 6: "exclusion is possible if the products are produced in a separate area of the factory OR the products are produced on different production equipment. - Issue 7: "exclusion acceptable if the excluded products can be differentiated from products within scope AND the products are produced in a physically segregated area of the factory" If there is anything else we can help you with, do let me know. Best, Thijs

      Reply »
  6. clement griffiths
    14/01/2015 at 15:55

    Was there also a change to Exclusions ? We have a frozen bread line that is BRC compliant but our muffin mix line is currently excluded. Since the muffin line is not in a dedicated area I believe it cannot be excluded under Version 7. Is this correct?

    Reply »
    • Dr. Thijs Willaert
      Dr. Thijs Willaert (Author)
      14/01/2015 at 15:56

      Dear Clement, yes, your assumption is correct. A quick comparison between the two: - Issue 6: "exclusion is possible if the products are produced in a separate area of the factory OR the products are produced on different production equipment. - Issue 7: "exclusion acceptable if the excluded products can be differentiated from products within scope AND the products are produced in a physically segregated area of the factory" If there is anything else we can help you with, do let me know. Best, Thijs

      Reply »

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