What is the BRC standard?
Today, the issue of food safety is a matter that has producers, authorities and consumers very busy. The existence of standards has greatly collaborated in this sector and the BRC certification is one of the international safety standards.
Its name derives from the acronym British Retail Consortium, and was developed in 1922 by large distribution chains in Great Britain.
The standard establishes quality and food safety protocols to ensure supplier compliance on one hand, and on the other, it provides tools so that retailers can guarantee the safety and quality of the products they sell. It should be interpreted as a food safety system rather than a standard, as it is not mandatory.
The BRC certification is specifically for the agri-food industry, it is only applicable to companies that manufacture or pack food products. It can only be used when a product is processed or when there is a risk of product contamination in the primary packaging process.
Any organization, regardless of its geographical location or size, can apply for the BRC standard as long as its activity is aimed at the production, manufacture or packaging of food during primary packaging. For exclusively storage or distribution companies, the World Storage and Distribution Standard applies.
With the application of the BRC standard, companies seek to improve their quality management system, optimizing their work and demonstrating safety to their suppliers and customers.
Among its main benefits we can find:
- Improves food safety for customers and suppliers;
- Provides transparency throughout the production chain;
- Reduce product waste;
- Improves production performance;
- International recognition;
- It allows opening trade to foreign markets that require the standard.
Over time, new versions of the BRC standard have been developed in which special aspects such as pest control or chemical contamination risk management have been worked on. Work was also done on certain aspects that facilitate the understanding of the standard for professionals, collaborators and auditors who are involved in the process.
How to prepare for certification
In order to obtain a BRC certification, modifications must be made in the production processes, but more importantly, a commitment must be established on the part of the management and collaborators, in addition to establishing objectives and deadlines for its implementation.
Within the requirements of the standard and actions to be carried out we can find:
- Implement a Quality Management System;
- Take into account the legal requirements and comply with them;
- Identify and apply good manufacturing practices and good hygiene practices;
- Identify and document specific food safety risks;
- Provider development;
Once the requirements are fulfilled, an accredited company will carry out a BRC audit and will be in charge of reviewing all the documentation and all the data necessary to carry out the evaluation will be recorded. It is verified that the company meets the requirements set by the standard. This verification is done to obtain it for the first time and also to maintain it over time, since its validity is between 6 and 12 months.
If your organization meets all the requirements, you will be able to obtain your BRC certificate, but if any requirement is not fully met, you will be notified of the necessary changes so that you can work on them.
With the use of digital platforms such as Full Audits, you can prepare for the BRC audit, controlling the status of your facilities, the safety and hygiene of collaborators, controlling and preventing pests, verifying the status of the equipment and consolidating all the information in a timely manner automatically in a dashboard. We invite you to try a free demo to start auditing and complying with the requirements of the standard in your company.
Difference between BRC and IFS standards
The IFS standard, whose syllables mean International Food Standard, is also a system made for the food industry, which certifies the safety and quality of processed foods and their corresponding production processes.
Its objective is similar to the BRC standard and both are focused on the same sector, but they contemplate different criteria and levels of evaluation, for example the IFS certification has a classification and scoring system that the BRC standard does not contemplate.
In addition, the BRC certification can be obtained even if there is some disagreement with the requirements and it can be modified within a period of 28 days. The IFS standard does not allow this flexibility in its certification.