In August 2018, the leading brand and consumer protection organisation, BRCGS published Issue 8 of its internationally recognised Global Standard for Food Safety. This new update is of significant interest to food manufacturers who are committed to maintaining the highest possible standards of safety for the benefit of their reputation, revenue and customers.
BRCGS is currently the largest GFSI approved food safety standards certification scheme. The Issue 8 update reflects the latest thinking in food safety, providing a strong and clear framework for those in the food and food ingredient manufacturing, processing and packing industry to assist them in managing product safety, integrity, legality and quality.
If you use the BRCGS for Food Safety or are thinking of implementing it, here’s a quick summary of the key things you need to know about the latest update.
BRCGS Global Standards for Food Safety: Key dates
Training of BRCGS approved training partners on Issue 8 started. These trainers will soon be available to provide guidance and training on the updated standards to senior food manufacturer site managers and production staff.
Training of auditors began. Site managers will also be able to receive training from approved training partners from this date.
BRCGS audits have started to apply the new Issue 8 standard from February. Anyone who wants to achieve the latest standard will need to be fully conversant with its requirements.
What’s different from Issue 7 of the BRCGS Global Standards for Food Safety?
The development of Issue 8 has followed a wide consultation to understand international stakeholders’ requirements and a review of emerging issues in the food industry. The findings of the consultation have resulted in BRCGS stipulating the need for greater control in a number of key areas. These areas include:
Product safety culture
One of the biggest changes is that Issue 8 puts more focus on encouraging the development of product safety culture. From now on, senior management on food manufacturing sites will need to define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuous improvement of food safety and quality culture.
Environmental monitoring measures the overall effectiveness of sanitary design, personnel practices and operational methods against indicator organisms, spoilage organisms and pathogens. BRCGS says that environmental monitoring programmes now need to be based on risk relating to these areas. As a minimum, they must also include the establishment of a sampling protocol that covers identification of sample locations, the frequency of tests, target organism, test methods and recording and evaluation of results.
Issue 8 also adds greater clarity to the requirements for high risk, high care and ambient high care production risk zones. The new standards stipulate that compliance will depend on high-risk areas being clearly mapped out, for example. Where high-risk areas are part of the manufacturing site, there will also need to be physical segregation between these areas and others – taking into account product flow, nature of materials, equipment, personnel, waste, airflow, air quality and utilities provision.
The pest management section was largely unchanged. Additional references were added for regulatory compliance and consideration of birds as a potential pest.
Alongside these changes, the new standards also continue to emphasise BRCGS’ longstanding support for the need for strong management commitment, strict adherence to HACCP plans and a supporting quality management system.