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dispatches from EU Food manufacturing and safety summit

BRC wants 'consistency and confidence' in audits

By Joe Whitworth+

11-Mar-2014
Last updated the 11-Mar-2014 at 11:34 GMT

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has appealed for stakeholder feedback to help improve certification schemes.

The certification body made the call as part of a drive to manage consistency and confidence in BRC audits.

Karen Betts, compliancy manager at BRC Global Standards, said it is audited by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to continue to be recognised.

“The audits have to be challenging but fair to give confidence to the users. We need to have competitive and realistic expectations of auditors and certification bodies.”

Consistency and confidence

She gave a review of the processes the BRC use to ensure consistency and confidence in the BRC audits at the EU Food Manufacturing and Safety Summit in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

Betts said that it is a global standard with the top 10 including the UK, Italy, USA, Spain and China.

“The US is a growth area for us and will take the number two spot shortly. This is partly because Walmart specifies that its suppliers are certified to the GFSI scheme,” she said.

BRC found Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) was the highest offender with 5,627 non-conformities found from audits in 2012 in a recent report.

BRC conducted audits in 113 countries in 2012 in more than 16,000 sites covering products from raw fish to ready meals.

It analysed 6,500 audit reports on their Global Standards Directory over seven months in 2012.

Reducing certification bodies

There are 75 certification bodies and 1,600 recognised auditors, however, Betts said that they will reduce the number of certification bodies so they can work closer with the remaining ones.

The BRC performs performance reviews every six months to examine the star rating of its certification bodies against specified Key Performance Indictor’s (KPI’s).

Ensuring audits are up to scratch can come in the form of witnessing the certification body auditor or a BRC trip to the site as compliance visits ensure audits are up to standard.

She said they use stakeholder feedback, integrity surveillance and KPI assessments to measure performance.

If they are unable to perform, they can be suspended or have their approval withdrawn, said Betts.

KPI criteria includes audit report quality, protocol compliance, audit competence and management, data submission and communication

The body is up to version 6 in food with 17,900 sites certified, version 4 in packaging with 2,500 certified and the second edition of storage and distribution.

The packaging standard covers glass, paper and board, metals – cans and foil products, plastics – rigid and flexible materials and wood and other materials.

Version 7 of the food standard and version 5 of the packaging standard will be available in 2015. 

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