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BRC (British Retail Consortium) is a name you may be familiar with if you work in the food, packaging, or storage and distribution sectors. The UK retailers and their suppliers are represented by the BRC, a prominent trade organization. BRC has created several international standards for compliance, quality, and safety in many supply chain segments.
BRC audits are among the best ways to make sure that your company satisfies the highest requirements for quality and client satisfaction. Many retailers and buyers who want to engage with dependable and trustworthy suppliers also demand BRC audits.
Understanding BRC Audits
An objective evaluation of your company’s food safety compliance with a particular BRC standard is a BRC audit. A BRC audit’s goal is to confirm that your food safety systems, processes/process controls, and products adhere to the standards. It also aims to ensure that you have put in place reliable controls to guarantee performance.
There are various BRC standards for various supply chain segments, including:
- BRC Food: This BRC global standard for food safety addresses the management of food quality and safety for food manufacturers. It is founded on the guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), and other best practices.
- BRC Packaging: For packaging makers, this standard addresses hygiene, safety, and quality control. All packing materials, including those made of paper, plastic, metal, glass, and wood, are covered by this rule.
- BRC Storage & Distribution: This standard covers hygiene, safety, and quality management for storage, distribution, transportation, and logistics services. It applies to both food and non-food products.
Retailers, producers, regulators, and consumers throughout the world recognize and recognize BRC standards. Additionally, they are compared to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). This is a project led by the food industry with the goal of unifying food safety standards around the world.
Why Businesses Need to Be Aware of BRC
Adhering to industry-specific rules and standards is not only required by law but also gives businesses a competitive edge in today’s competitive and complicated business climate. Following BRC guidelines enables you to:
- Boost your credibility and reputation: BRC accreditation demonstrates your dedication to excellence and your fulfillment of stakeholder and customer expectations. Additionally, it enables you to distinguish yourself from your rivals and open up new markets and chances.
- Reduce risks and expenses: BRC audits assist you in finding possible risks and problems in your systems, processes, and products before they develop into major concerns. You can avert expensive recalls, penalties, legal fees, and reputational harm by putting corrective and preventive procedures in place.
- Improve efficiency and performance: BRC audits help you optimize your operations by eliminating waste, improving productivity, reducing errors, increasing consistency, and ensuring customer satisfaction. By following best practices and continuous improvement principles, you can achieve higher-quality outcomes with lower resources.
Diving further, evidence supports that obtaining BRC certification has a favorable effect on their organization, according to a poll performed by BRCGS. Among the advantages mentioned by respondents were:
- Increased competitiveness (70%).
- Enhanced operational efficiency (69%).
- Increased sales (55%).
3 Steps to Conduct a Successful BRC Audit
It takes careful planning, implementation, reporting, and follow-up for a BRC audit to be successful. The four key steps to performing a successful BRC audit are as follows:
Step 1: Preparation Phase
The selection of the audit team, the gathering of information, the definition of the audit’s scope and objectives, and communication with the pertinent parties are all part of the preparation phase.
Selecting the Audit Team
The audit team should be composed of qualified auditors who have the required expertise, knowledge, experience, and objectivity to carry out the audit. The BRC standard, the industrial sector, the product category, and the particular business processes and systems should all be familiar to the auditors. Additionally, the auditors must receive training in auditing methods like observation, sampling, testing, verification, evaluation, and reporting.
Policies, procedures, records, manuals, specifications, plans, reports, certificates, licenses, permits, contracts, agreements, and any other pertinent documents that prove conformity with the BRC standard are among the documentation needed for the audit. The documentation needs to be well-planned, current, precise, thorough, consistent, available, and traceable.
Defining Audit Scope and Objectives
The audit scope establishes the parameters and scope of the audit. It details the audit’s target audience as well as the products, systems, sites, and divisions that will be examined. The aim and anticipated results of the audit are specified in the audit objectives. They outline the objectives of the audit, such as confirming compliance, locating gaps, assessing performance, or suggesting improvements. The audit’s aims and scope should be in line with the BRC standard, corporate objectives, and client specifications.
Communicating with the Relevant Parties
The auditee (the company being audited), the auditor (the person conducting the audit), the certification body (the company that issues the BRC certification), and any other stakeholders (such as clients, suppliers, government officials, or staff members) who might be involved or impacted by the audit are all relevant parties. The audit plan, which details the audit schedule, agenda, technique, criteria, and expectations, should be included in the message. The statement should also outline each party’s roles and obligations, the audit’s standards and procedures, and the security and confidentiality of the data it collects.
Step 2: Audit Execution Phase
The pre-audit briefing, documentation review, on-site conditions inspection, and evidence evaluation are all part of the audit execution phase.
Before the audit begins, the auditor and the auditee meet for a pre-audit briefing. The pre-audit briefing aims to build rapport and confidence between the parties while also confirming the audit’s scope and objectives, reviewing the audit plan, and answering any questions or concerns.
The auditee’s paperwork is examined and verified as part of the document review process. The goal of the document review is to make sure that the paperwork complies with the BRC standard, accurately depicts the activities and results of the company, and offers appropriate proof of compliance. The document evaluation may also reveal any inconsistencies or gaps that require more research or explanation.
The process of witnessing and evaluating the physical circumstances and operations at the auditee’s premises is called an on-site inspection. The goal of the on-site inspection is to confirm that the conditions and operations are by the paperwork, that they adhere to the BRC standard, and that they guarantee the products’ safety and quality. The on-site examination could involve:
- Personal Hygiene and Sanitation
- Product Handling and Storage
- Documentation and Records
- Personnel Practices
- Equipment and Machinery
- Quality Control Procedures
- Emergency Preparedness
- Training and Competence
- Evaluating the Evidence
Step 3: Reporting and Follow-up Phase
Documenting the audit findings, performing a root cause analysis, creating a corrective action plan, offering suggestions for continuous improvement, disseminating and reviewing the audit results, and carrying out post-audit activities are all part of the reporting and follow-up phase.
Audit Findings Documentation
Reporting the findings of the audit in the documentation of the findings is done. The audit scope, objectives, methodology, evidence, evaluation, audit NCs, observations, audit conclusion, and recommendation are all included, along with any other pertinent data. The documentation of the audit findings must be objective, accurate, complete, accurate, and clear.
Root Cause Analysis
The process of locating and examining the underlying causes of the NCs is known as root cause analysis. By addressing the root cause of the issue rather than just the symptom, the root cause analysis aims to avoid the NCs from recurring. The 5 Whys, fishbone diagram, Pareto chart, SWOT analysis, and other tools and methodologies may be used during the root cause analysis.
Corrective Action Plan
The steps that will be taken to address the NCs and stop them from happening again are outlined in the corrective action plan. The description of the NCs, the underlying causes, the corrective measures, the accountable parties, the intended completion dates, and the verification techniques are all included. The corrective action plan needs to be time-bound, relevant, practical, explicit, measurable, and doable.
Continuous Improvement Recommendations
The proposals for continuous improvement are ideas that go above and beyond what is required by the standard to enhance the operation’s performance and compliance. Best practices, standards, innovations, or chances for improvement might be among them. The suggestions for ongoing improvement should be supported by facts, information, analysis, or feedback.
Leveraging Technology for Your Next BRC Audit
Technology can help you streamline and enhance your BRC audit process by automating, simplifying, standardizing, and optimizing various aspects of the internal audit, such as documentation, data collection, reporting, communication, and data analysis.
At Certainty Software, we open new windows of audit and inspection opportunities. We do this by giving you the power to easily create, manage, and report on your audits and inspections. This is done by offering customizable checklists, mobile data collection, remote auditing, integrated media, automated reporting, and data analysis. Our goal is to enable you to improve your compliance, reduce your risks, enhance your performance, and increase your customer satisfaction.
Want to learn more about how Certainty Software can integrate with your BRC audit systems or other food safety plans? Book a no-obligation demo with us here.
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