The BRC Standards are here to stay

Since the 1990s, the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC’s) food safety benchmark has been the ‘gold standard’ for food and beverage businesses seeking entry to the lucrative UK and European markets.

Now, Australian food manufacturers are finding that it’s not only export businesses that need to sit up and pay attention. More and more, the latest ‘Version 5’ of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (BRC Food) is a requirement for doing business in this country, as well.

Help is at hand with the increasing availability of specialised training courses such as those offered by SAI Global, one of a few approved BRC training providers. Approved BRC training providers can help ground organisations in the fundamentals of the Standard and speed them to compliance.

What’s set to change the landscape of food safety management in Australia is that certification to ‘BRC Food’ is now one of the requirements of suppliers to grocery giant Coles.

SAI Global’s business development manager for food safety assurance services in Australia and New Zealand, Jeremy Stones, has said that one of the benefits of the advent of ‘BRC Food’ is the streamlining and simplification of audits in a crowded market. This is because the standard is very comprehensive.

“It’s a common complaint of food organisations that, due to the need for compliance to multiple standards or codes, they are in a state of eternal audit,” he said.

“The BRC Standard has certainly raised the bar. It offers a new opportunity for consistency of standards. So, if a company is certified to BRC it is automatically certified to HACCP, as well.

Stones expects that the uptake of the Standard will also experience another surge now that there is more specialised BRC Food related training to help manufacturing organisations get up to speed.

“It is a good, clear and easy to read standard, which stands in its favour,” he explained. “But up until recently businesses were winging it — relying on their own interpretation to set up and implement their systems — a bit of a hit and miss approach.

“Training is fundamental to getting the most from the standard. There are some basic tenets that are essential to be across from the start and training can make the difference between barely passing, and passing at first audit — and with flying colours,” he said.

SAI Global’s comprehensive series of ‘BRC Food Version 5’ and related training programs will be run nationally from October.

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