The BRCGS Global Standard Food Safety Version 9 was published in August 2022. With the publication of version 9, the BRCGS standard continues to evolve. Version 9 continues to focus on management commitment and a HACCP-based food safety system with the goal of managing product safety, legalization, and quality of food products.
In addition, the product authenticity component is named in the various standard elements. Also, food safety and quality culture are important in the new BRCGS version.
The standard is recognized (and required) by a large number of retailers and food companies around the world. It improves the safety and quality of your product, reduces costs by reducing recalls, and is useful when exporting products.
What Is BRCGS?
The company was founded in 1996 by retailers who wanted to harmonize food safety standards across the supply chain. Nowadays, they are globally recognized across both food and non-food categories and operate the most rigorous third-party certification scheme of its type.
What Has Changed in BRCGS 9?
The new BRCGS version includes changes for the following topics:
The blended audit is an announced audit divided into two parts: remote (online) and on-site. The certification body will check beforehand if the IT possibilities at the site are sufficient to perform this audit and will determine the percentage of the remote audit duration (with a maximum of 50%).
Food safety culture is now part of the fundamental section. Therefore, it focuses even more on senior management and continuous improvement of the food safety culture. The plan to improve food safety culture includes the activities required in order to achieve this. These activities focus on clear and open communication about product safety, training, employee feedback, behaviors needed to maintain and improve product safety processes, and performance measurement of activities related to product safety, authenticity, legality, and quality.
There is more attention to validation within the HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) section. Validation is mandatory before a change is implemented. A control point (so not only a CPP), as well as the critical limit of a CCP, are also validated. Also, verification is no longer expected only once annually, but at least annually and immediately after any changes or incidents.
Where before only relevant staff, temporary staff, and contractors had to be trained before the start of operations, this now applies to all staff. The recording of training requirements in a plan now also applies to all personnel. In the production of pet food with medication, mastery of this material will be trained. Also, not only the management of a CCP but also of the other control measures will be prepared (and competence will be tested). The entire staff will be trained in allergen control plans. The competencies of the VACCP (vulnerability and critical control points) and TACCP (threat assessment and critical control points) teams must include an understanding of the principles of food fraud and food defense.
Effective Date of BRCGS 9?
As with all revisions of the Global Standards, there must be a transition period between consultation, publication of the complete, finalized Standard, and full implementation. Therefore, issue 9 was published in August 2022, and certification against Issue 9 will commence in audits from 1 February 2023.
BRCGS 9 with Qooling
The blended audit is announced in two parts: remote (online) and on-site. With Qooling, it is possible to store all documents on the platform, so the auditor can already read them as step one before beginning the actual audit. With the Qooling platform, it is also possible to give access rights to an external auditor. Besides that, it’s possible to do an internal audit.
- You can give access rights, and create an audit plan.
- It is possible to assign the auditor, date, subject, auditee, procedures, tags, and reminders for the audit.
- Also, you can see the audit status: pending, planned, or completed.
- There is also a calendar available on the platform where you can see each date of every planned audit.
- The dashboard also gives a complete overview of the total audits, status, date of audit, tag, and number.
Food Safety Culture
Important aspects of a good safety culture are simplifying safety communication and making it easy to schedule safety training. Another important feature that a worker should be able to do is having access to safety information, assessments, and also, reports. In a safety culture, everyone should be able to report a safety incident. The easiest way would be on a smartphone app, making a picture of the accident and adding a note to it, being as specific as possible. Also, forming an audit trail on reporting is important, just like analyzing previous audit reports and their findings, it can be used to identify emerging issues. Communication is also able to be planned around the recurring incidents, to prevent them in the future.
In Qooling, you can (online) train your staff, and instruct them to prevent incidents, you can send your workers reminders before the training, which improves overall communication. With Qooling, it is possible to form an audit trail. Assessments and their tasks and findings are part of an audit trail, saved within the Qooling platform. You’ll be able to store the data on the platform. This way, you will have all the data on one platform and don’t have to search for it in different documents. This saves a lot of time. By analyzing previous audit reports and their findings, the assessments themselves can be used to identify emerging issues. Also, communication can be planned around recurring incidents to prevent them from occurring in the future. You can also schedule any additional checks that you need as regularly recurring tasks in Qooling. This results in a culture of continuous improvement. It also makes it easier for workers to engage with safety processes—they can look at safety information, assessments, and reports. Also, the training can be conducted remotely (online). With Qooling, everyone can make a safety incident report when necessary.
These points ensure that the (food) safety culture improves by using the Qooling platform. Clear and open communication is managed, because product safety, (online) training, employee feedback, and performance measurement are all very much possible to manage in Qooling, which results in a better (food) safety culture.
Validation & Verification
Validation and verification can be done by using Qooling. Validation is a step in change management to ensure systems remain controlled and validated. It allows you to set up verification before the procedure is triggered. Verification is a process that is used to evaluate whether a product, service, or system complies with regulations, specifications, or conditions imposed at the start of a development phase. This is often an internal process. With Qooling, you can create a workflow to complete the validation.
In the image, you can see an example of a checklist. It’s an example of a hazard analysis. It is important to mention that we also made it possible to fill in the checklist on a smartphone or tablet. This makes it easy to do (for example, a hazard analysis) while walking around on the work site and filling in the checklist on your smartphone.
Training (even online), clear and open communication and a lot of other processes can easily be done by using the platform. Qooling is the easiest way to continuously train a team. Create your own online training (it’s also possible to upload video material) and distribute it within the company. Where before only relevant staff, temporary staff, and contractors had to be trained, this now applies to all staff. So, Qooling is ideal to train all staff members.
With Qooling, it’s even possible to train staff before they join the workforce. It’s ideal for digital toolbox meetings, (food) safety training, site safety instructions, and new employee instructions. This can all be done in the Qooling platform. The (online) training contributes to employee and manager communication. It is also preventive regarding incidents as employees learn to work safer. Thus, absenteeism, illness, and incidents are reduced/prevented. Also, by training through the platform, you don’t have to deal with other documentation, systems, etc. Qooling brings everything together on one platform, saving time. With the employee module, you can see a complete overview of each employee, and which training they have done (and still need to do). If you notice that an employee has not done training, just simply remind them that they still have to do it through our platform. This way, it’s easy for a manager to see who did which training, and who still has to do a particular training.