BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8: a guide to key changes
By Richard Leathers - 20 June 2018
What is Issue 8 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety and when will it be released?
The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is the most widely used of the commercial standards for assuring production of safe food, with over 19,000 food certificates issued annually by 1,500 auditors working for 64 certification bodies. The eagerly anticipated ‘Issue 8’ update, was released in August 2018. First audits will be conducted against this from 01 February 2019.
What are the changes in ‘BRC issue 8’?
One of the most noticeable visible change is that there are now nine sections instead of the historical seven sections. There are now sections on ‘Production Risk Zones’ and ‘Traded Goods’, in addition to the previous sections on: Senior Management Commitment; HACCP; Food Safety and QMS; Site Standards; Product Control; Process Control; and Personnel, but there are changes throughout – with some discussed below.
Food safety and quality culture
Regarding the new and significantly updated clauses that will have an impact and will require action and attention on certificated sites, the earliest new addition is a clause which introduces food safety and quality culture as a compulsory requirement.
Previously, this has been a voluntary requirement for companies but the importance of food safety and quality culture for all manufacturers was recognised when drafting the Standard.
Auditors will not be attempting to audit and evaluate culture at a site. Rather, the purpose is to nudge sites to be considering the importance of culture and therefore developing plans of actions aimed at improving food safety culture, implementing the plans and evaluating their success as a means of adjusting plans for the following year. These become measurable objective requirements that can be audited. The message from BRC is emphasising this because for many sites this will be a new concept and probably be a concern.
Linked in part to this is a new clause which requires companies to have a confidential reporting system for staff.
Changes to supplier approval and monitoring
Some of the significant areas of non-conformance during BRC audits are around supplier approval and monitoring. At present, these are covered by a single clause. But they are different activities. So, in issue 8, they are being separated as clause 22.214.171.124 for mechanisms which control initial supplier approval, and clause 126.96.36.199 for ongoing supplier monitoring which will allow additional focus and direction for auditors and manufacturers.
New requirements for food defence
Food Defence and the potential for deliberate malicious contamination from both internal and external sources will now need to be risk assessed, defined, documented, controlled, monitored and reviewed as requirements of clauses 4.2.1, 4.2.2 and 4.2.3.
Many sites are looking at combining this with the requirements for Food Fraud in clauses 5.4.1, 5.4.2 and 5.4.3 because the methodology and principles defined in the TACCP guidance document PAS96:2017 is similar. Campden BRI Guideline 72 for TACCP also covers both food fraud and food defence.
Changes to environmental monitoring
A whole new section of 4.11.8 on Environmental Monitoring requires risk based programmes to be in place for pathogens or spoilage organisms for all production areas with open and ready to eat products. The individual clauses detail some very specific protocols and systems to be in place in this area, which may involve significant work for many sites.
Updates to other sections
There are also many areas and sections of the updated standard that are subtler but no less significant to manufacturers, such as:
- the need to validate cooking instructions and shelf-life
- training on labelling procedures
- cyber security related to documents, records and equipment settings
- understanding the significance of laboratory results
- traceability procedures
- defining Root Cause Analysis
What are the next steps?
These changes will all need to be worked on from the release date of the Standard in August 2018 right through to first audits starting in February 2019. This leaves six months to implement the new clauses.
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