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Overview of BRC Certification Process

by johniso

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The BRC Global Standards scheme operates at a single level of certification for quality and safety and provides clarity for producers and customers.  When first introduced, the BRC Scheme operated at “Foundation” and “Higher Level” to accommodate producers at different levels of quality and safety standards.  Feedback suggested that this created confusion and varied interpretation among producers and certification bodies and the principle was difficult to explain to potential customers.  The current single level of certification reduces this confusion and provides greater clarity for producers and their customers.

A Single Annual BRC Audit

Based upon performance, the BRC Global Standards scheme generally requires a single annual audit.  An additional 6 monthly audit is only required if the non-conformities at an audit exceed a certain level.  This provides an incentive for producers to conduct an effective pre assessment and have the standards in place to enable them to perform well at audit, freeing resources to manage the business more effectively.

Focus on Management Commitment and HACCP

The BRC Standard places a heavy emphasis on Management Commitment and a detailed approach to HACCP as the cornerstones of an effective Product Quality and Safety Management System.  Feedback from BRC’s international network of food experts and discussions with CEO’s of BRC Certificated companies consistently identify these as the major components in a well managed quality and safety focused company.

Detailed Requirements Aid Consistent Interpretation

The “Requirements” in the BRC Global Standard are documented to a high level of detail.  This is designed to promote consistent interpretation of the Standard by auditors and implementation by producers, thereby enhancing confidence in the certification process.

Fundamental Requirements Drive Sustainable Standards

The BRC Global Standard identifies 10 Fundamental Requirements that are crucial to a sustainable Quality and Safety Management System; they help ensure the necessary practices are in place to help maintain standards of operation between audits.

Issue 4 Incorporates the Latest Thinking in Food Quality and Safety

Based on feedback from the international community, Issue 4 of the BRC Global Standard for Packaging and packaging materials, Food Safety contains enhanced sections on issues of interest and concern to producers and their customers such as Allergen Management, Site Security, and Foreign Body Management. The Standard has also incorporated sections on Product Design and Customer Focus to help ensure safety is built into the New Product Development process and that the food safety and quality system is constantly reviewed in line with customer needs.

A Framework for Global Supply Chains

The BRC operates a Global Network of over 80 Certification Bodies operating in 90 countries.  The availability of the Standard in 14 languages assists food businesses to implement the Standard throughout their global production facilities and relevant international supply chains.

Unannounced Audits

Audits of producers against the BRC Global Standard are normally announced – in that a date for the audit is agreed in advance between the Certification Body and the producer. For the first time, Issue 5 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety provides the option for those producers who are sufficiently confident in their food quality and safety systems to elect for unannounced audits in agreement with their appointed Certification Body. This is entirely at the request of the producer but would not normally be undertaken until the producer has a good track record of performance with announced pre-arranged audits.

Steps for BRC Certification Process



BRC certification procedures by which a governmental agency having justification, formally recognizes the competence of a certification services.

UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) have set up the pilot scheme for accrediting the first certification bodies to issue certificates for compliance with BRC

Independent assessments / audits may be carried out by:

  • Regulatory Agencies:

As a country moves towards the adoption of BRC, ISO 22000:2005 or HACCP, regulators will be faced with their food industry carrying out its business in a new way. The traditional role of food inspectors based on enforcing prescriptive food hygiene regulations will change to assessment will change to assessment of HACCP system in food industries and confirmation that the system is correctly designed and conducted.

  • Third Party Assessments and / or Certifications:

The assessor / auditor must be a person of integrity, skilled in audit and inspection processes. These may be considered as one approach to increase that food safety regulations are being met.

2.Accreditation Phases

The accreditation body – assessment will be carried out in the following phases:-

  • A quality manual, including the procedures or instructions for dealing with participation of interested parties, contract review, auditor qualification and the certification process, relevant to certification of FSMS.
  • Documents indicating the scope of operation of the certification body.
  • A model FSMS certificate and contract
  • Records to demonstrate competence of personnel, such as auditors & exports and staff personnel, such as contract reviewers & (certification) decision takers.

3.Office Assessment   

The objective is to verify the implementation of the documented procedures. The following clauses will get extra attention for FSMS accreditation:-

  • Participation of interested parties
  • Competence of personnel
  • Assessment procedures

4.On Site Witness

The objective is to verify the implementation of the certification bodies procedures in practice. For an initial accreditation, the accreditation body requires that at least one full initial certification audit (two stage) can be observed.

In addition to the documents required for the document review, the accreditation body requires from the certification body to provide the following audited client’s documents:-

  • The organisation manual (top tier)
  • The results of the organizations risk analysis and their subsequent list of CCPs
  • Application from for certification completed by the organisation and documents demonstrating the certification bodies pre – assessment (document review) of the organizations FSMS
  • The audit program and a route deto the organisation

After the witness the accreditation body will review the certification bodies report of the audit.

Accreditation will be awarded once all outstanding issues have been closed – up by the certification body.

5.Surveillance Assessments

For certification of FSMS systems, the accreditation body accredits certification bodies according to the EAC scopes and the respective NACE codes.

The certification body is required to determine more accurately (in terms of sub – sectors), which competencies it has available and to limit its scope of operations to these sub – sectors for which the NACE codes are better as they are more precise.

6.Assessment Criteria

The certification body will be assessed on the basis of EN 45012:1998 (and guidance EA – 7/01), ISO 19011 and RAC (Regulation for Accreditation).



FSMS certification is a procedure by which official certification bodies or officially recognized bodies provide written or equivalent assurance that Food Safety Management Systems conform to requirements.

Certification assessment refers to a certification bodies activity carried out with objective of obtaining evidence that the FSMS has been effectively applied, the HACCP plan and prerequisites are correctly implemented; and, that the system has been maintained.

8.Pre – Condition for Certification

Organizations from the whole food chain applying for FSMS certification shall fulfill the following requirements:-

  • Food Safety management system shall be developed in accordance with Standard
  • Pre – requisite programmes shall be in place and documented, which demonstrate the compliance of legislative requirements.
  • The HACCP system shall be developed based on the CAC guidelines
  • The FSMS has been implemented for a minimum of three (3) months.

9.Overview of Audit

To effectively assess a Food Safety Management System, the whole assessment includes the following stages:-

  1. Initial Contract Review
  2. Stage I of the Initial Audit (Including evaluation visit and document review)
  3. Stage II of the Initial Audit
  4. Reporting and Follow Up Actions
  5. Surveillance Audit
  6. Re – Audit

10.Initial Certification

  • Stage I of the initial audit serves as a basis for the detailed gathering of information, including document review. The system is evaluated against its maturity and the information which is gathered serves for the planning of stage II of the initial audit which is the actual certification audit. Document review report is prepared and sent to the scheme office for review and approval before stage II of the initial audit is done.
  • Once Stage II of the initial audit is finalized with all non – compliance identified during the audit closed out, the audit report package will be submitted by the lead auditor to Moody Central Office and be reviewed by the Scheme Management Team. The decision of certification will be made as the results of Scheme Management Review.
  • The certification is valid for three years from the date of the initial audit. Moody will pay regular surveillance audits to the company certified, ensuring the effectiveness of FSMS is maintained by the company.

Audit frequency is decided on the outcome of the first audit., as per the standard grading of packaging.  

11.Regular Surveillance and Re – Audit

  • The frequency and man-days of surveillance will be agreed with the company in the Surveillance Contract and Moody International will make pre – arranged surveillance audit as per the agreed frequency.
  • On the completion of the three year contract, Moody will re – negotiate contract with the company, provided the company wish to continue using Moody as registrar for the next three years. The fees and man – days of re – audit will be less than the initial audit.

Although the certification or audit is not required by law, three are significant benefits for food industry to pursue third party certification or audit:-

  • To give the customers the confidence that the products have been produced hygienically and safely.
  • To demonstrate the intention to take all reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence in the hygienic production of the products.
  • To meet food safety legislation requirements of the countries where the company export food products to.
  • To significantly decrease the number of customer audits and therefore save costs and time.
  • To reduce wastage and recalls in a cost – effective way.
  • To reduce costs by having a better relationship with national food safety authorities.
  • To increase the effectiveness of the management system regarding food safety.

12.Type of Audit

First Party or Internal Audit

This is an organisation looking at its own systems, procedures and activities to ascertain whether or not they are adequate and being complied with. They are carried out against a predetermined audit programme. These audits can also be carried out within a particular area or function or against a specific job. Audits are carried out by the organisation using their own trained auditors.

Second Party or Supplier Audit

This is an audit carried out by a customer on its suppliers to ensure their adequacy and / or compliance to a standard, specified system or contract requirements. It is normally carried out by the customer’s own trained staff or on their behalf. It may include the audit of divisions or companies supplying to others within the same group.

Third Party or Independent Audit

This type of audit is carried out by an independent organisation to determine how well an organizations management system meets the standard to which it is documented and may result in certification to that standard or specification when the independent organisation is an accredited certification body.

13.Documentation Review or Desk – Top Audit

An audit to determine the extent to which the documented system (manual, procedures, etc.) meets the requirements of a specified standard. Normally carried out in advance of an on – site audit may be referred to as a desk top audit.

14.Conformance or Compliance Audit

An audit conducted to determine that the management system is being implemented.

Its normally called an initial audit if this conformance audit is aimed at certification.

15.Verification Audit

Verification audits are conducted where it is necessary to check that effective corrective action has been carried out where significant non – compliances are normally left until the next surveillance visit.

16.Surveillance Visits

These visits are usually carried our at six monthly intervals although intervals may be shorter or longer as required. The maximum interval should Not exceed twelve months.

Visits may be pre – planned or unannounced at the discretion of the customer or certification Body.

Unplanned visits can also result when a customer suspects that’s suppliers quality is not achieving expectations.

These surveillance visits are usually carried out by one person who will sample a selection of the registered organizations or supplier’s quality system arrangements to ensure that they are continuing to be applied, observed by the work force and are being kept up to date with any changing Organisational, specification, contractual or control requirements.

If the visit has resulted from a decline in management level then the sample may be quite extensive and may require a full audit.

The same rules of auditing are applied as for an initial audit activity except that the sample may be smaller.

17.Re – Audit for Continued Certification

A re – audit re – establishes that the company scope and activities are in line with original scope of the initial audit and any later amendments to the scope where applicable.

18.Party Definitions

This course is primarily concerned with external audits (second and third party audits)

First Party                           The organisation

Second Party     The purchaser, customer or client carrying out an audit of a supplier.

Third Party                          An independent organisation carrying out an audit on behalf of a client to assess compliance to a recognized standard or by an accredited certification body, which assesses an organisation’s compliance to recognized management standard for certification.

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