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.
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.
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.
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.