In December 2017, IFS released an updated version of its internationally recognized PACsecure standard. Although the new version largely builds on the existing standard, there are a couple of changes that certified sites will need to prepare for. In this article, we have summarized those changes for you.
In the five years that have passed since the initial publication of the IFS PACsecure standard, the industry has become increasingly aware of some new potential threats to product safety. With the publication of Version 1.1, IFS aims to take into account the changing needs of industry stakeholders as well as to make sure that the IFS PACsecure standard continues to meet the benchmarking requirements of the GFSI.
Companies that are already certified to the IFS PACsecure standard should have little difficulty in implementing the new version 1.1. Yet, there are two main changes that require some attention: the addition of a new chapter on product fraud as well as the introduction of unannounced audits.
Preventing Product Fraud: Context
If you have been following the development of the main standards for food safety, you will have noticed that the prevention of food fraud has become a mandatory aspect of all GFSI-benchmarked standards. Yet how does this relate to the packaging industry?
GFSI defines food fraud as deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging for economic gain. IFS builds on this definition, but uses the term “product fraud” in order to make it applicable to food and non-food products alike.
So what would typical cases of fraud involving packaging materials look like? Here’s a couple of possible scenarios:
- Substitution of raw materials: replacing FSC- or PEFC certified board with non-certified materials
- Theft of excess branded packaging to package non-brand products
- Theft of brand logos and artwork to manufacture fraudulent packaging
Product Fraud: Requirements in IFS PACsecure 1.1
In order to help prevent the issues listed above, Version 1.1 has an entirely new section dedicated to the prevention of product fraud. It contains three main requirements:
- A documented product fraud vulnerability assessment shall be undertaken on all raw materials (raw materials, additives, inks, adhesives, solvents, wrapping, materials, rework), product formula /configuration, processes (including outsourced) packaging and labelling, to determine the risk of fraudulent activity in relation to substitution, mislabelling, adulteration or counterfeiting. The criteria considered within the vulnerability assessment shall be defined.
- A documented product fraud mitigation plan shall be developed, with reference to the vulnerability assessment, and implemented to control any identified risk. The methods of control and monitoring shall be defined and implemented.
- In the event of increased risks, the vulnerability assessment and mitigation plan shall be reviewed and amended accordingly. Otherwise all the vulnerability assessments, shall be reviewed at least annually.
The IFS Food unannounced audit scheme is voluntary. Certified sites that wish to opt into the unannounced scheme need to notify their certification body before the start of the audit time window. The audit will then be conducted at a random point within the time window, which spans from 16 weeks before the due date until two weeks after.
Certified sites have the option to define certain dates where an audit is not possible, with a maximum of ten operating days, plus the periods where the site is not operational. The unannounced are not additional to the regular audits, but rather replace them. This also means that they cover all requirements of the IFS PACsecure Standard.
Registering for unannounced audits will be possible from July 2018 onwards.
Timeline & Transition Period
In terms of the timeline for the transition, we can distinguish three periods:
- Before July 2, 2018: Version 1 remains in force. Audits according to Version 1.1 are not possible yet.
- From July 2 to August 31, 2018: Sites can choose whether they are audited to Version 1 or Version 1.1.
- From September 1, 2018 onwards: All audits are conducted according to Version 1.1.
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