After a transition phase of six months, the BRC Food Standard Issue 8 will replace Issue 7 on the 1st of February 2019. To prepare you for the new version, we have outlined the most important changes below.
Despite being an evolution from previous versions of the standard, the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8 introduces quite a lot of significant changes compared to its predecessor Issue 7. According to BRC, the new issue has consolidated key themes including ensuring global applicability and benchmarking to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), encouraging the development of a food safety culture and expanding the requirements for environmental monitoring. Alongside these areas of focus are the addition of new sections and clauses, which we have summarized for you below.
- Removing second/split unannounced audit option
Version 7 of the BRC Food Standard offered three audit options: Full announced audit, full unannounced audit, and split unannounced audit. The last one divided the audit requirements into two separate audits, the first one unannounced and the second one announced. Reflecting that the full unannounced audit option is generally preferred because it gives extra confidence to specifiers, Issue 8 will remove the split unannounced audit option. Unannounced audits remain optional.
- Food Safety Culture
Food Safety Culture is a fundamental factor in the management of product safety. Issue 8 places more emphasis on developing a Food Safety Culture. Sites shall plan to maintain and develop food safety and quality culture within the business and during objective setting. This also involves the management. As company culture is a rather subjective issue, the auditor does not evaluate the culture itself, but the documented measures with regards to the status of the culture in the organisation and the improvement measures that have been introduced.
- Significant food safety issue
In Issue 7 the certification body needed to be notified when there was a product recall. Issue 8 expands this requirement to any “significant food safety issue”. Situations in which the certification body should be notified include all product recalls, any situation where regulatory authority insists on action (e.g. an enforcement notice) due to product safety or legality concerns, adverse media attention relating to product safety or any food safety incident with the potential to harm a consumer. It should be noted that only the site(s) where an issue occurs is/are required to notify their certification body.
- Section 8: High Risk, High Care and Ambient High Care Requirements
The requirements for production facilities who fall into the high risk, high care and ambient high care categories have been centralized and are now found in section 8. Sites are expected to demonstrate that production facilities and controls are suitable to prevent pathogen contamination of products. These clauses, previously found under section 4 and 7, need to be fulfilled in addition to all relevant requirements in sections 1 – 7.
- Section 9: Requirements of the traded goods – voluntary module
This module has been incorporated as a separate section and requires the organization to operate procedures for approval to ensure that food products are safe, comply with legal requirements and are manufactured in accordance with product specifications. In a stark difference to Issue 7, any non-conformities assigned against this module will now be included in the overall grade.
- The integration of Pet Food
Found under section 5 (Clauses 5.1.5 – 5.1.7), pet food has been integrated and defined to assist manufacturers. This encompasses the procedures when dealing with products for various animal species and ensuring that products are designed for their intended use (complete diet or complementary product). Medicated food needs to be precisely labeled, materials need to be clearly identifiable and involve mechanisms to ensure that the correct concentrations are used.
- Whistleblower system
It is now fundamental that a whistleblower system be integrated to ensure all concerns regarding product safety, integrity, quality and legality to senior management can be reported and handled confidentially. The method (e-mail, hotline number etc.) needs to be clearly communicated to employees. A process to handle concerns raised needs to be implemented and documented. This ties in particularly well with BRCs newly released whistleblower hotline.
- The addition of Cyber Security Clauses
Under section 3, clause 3.11.1 it is a requirement that organizations implement procedures to document and handle cyber attacks or the failure of their internet security. As this topic becomes increasingly more relevant, it brings BRC Food in line with other standards and principles.
According to BRC, it is clear that many sites are not effectively scheduling internal audits throughout the year, which is evident by the non-conformities being raised. To combat this, clause 3.4.1 has been amended to ensure that safety management systems are being assessed at regular intervals. This means at least 4 audit dates per year.
What to expect from an Issue 8 audit
What is the timeline for the transition?
Starting from the 1st of Feburary 2019 the use of the new standard is compulsory. Prior to that date, it is not possible to be certified according to the new version.
Where can I find the BRC Global Food Safety Standard Issue 8?
The standard is available free of charge from the BRC Bookshop. Click here to download a copy.
How can DQS assist you on your way towards BRC compliance?
- In-House workshops are available upon request.
- Certify your company against BRC Food with external audits and gap assessments
- We have highly skilled auditors available globally. Click here to find your local DQS office and get in touch about upcoming workshops.