Tip 1: BRCGS Document Review
Well before the date of the BRCGS audit, review all food safety documentation for any changes to your process, supplies, or ingredients. Do not leave this to the last minute. Technically, you should be food safety document audit-ready at ALL times! Supply documents like Organic, Kosher, or Halal certification can become expired if not tracked properly and can cause a gap in the traceability of your product. If there are any expired or missing documents, contact your supplier to get them as soon as possible.
Having an electronic document software system to keep track of expiration dates would benefit both the quality manager and the smoothness of completing the BRC audit. Document Compliance Network (DCN) can create peace of mind by automating supplier documentation. Having software email the suppliers for their expiring documentation will ensure that you have all current documentation from your suppliers. This takes a task off the plate of the quality department and ensures that as documents near expiration, they can track who has uploaded their new documents. This helps to maintain audit readiness at all times.
As part of the document review process, it is crucial to make sure that you comply with the newest issue of BRC. BRC is currently auditing against Issue 8. Reviewing internal documents, such as your HACCP plan, is an excellent place to start. FSMA regulation in the United States has changed some terminology (e.g., preventative controls) and will not cause a non-conformance as long as it is shown that the standard has been met1. Furthermore, the BRC standard requires a plan to review your HACCP plan at least four times a year. Also, it is important to make sure all internal policies have the proper documentation to meet each standard. Just remember, if it is not documented, it didn't happen!
Just remember, if it is not documented, it didn't happen!
Tip 2: Prepping your employees for the BRCGS Audit
To ensure that the audit goes smoothly, ensure that you send out reminders to all management on the date and time of the opening meeting and plant walkthrough. As per the BRC standards, all management team members must be present at the opening session. In this meeting, the auditor will introduce themselves, go over the audit scope, and outline what will happen that day. In addition to the necessary parties, it is often helpful to have management present during the plant walkthrough to help answer any questions the BRC auditor may have that you, as a quality manager, might not know the answer to. The BRC standard puts focus on senior management's commitment to food safety culture development around food safety.²
What to expect on the day of the BRCGS audit
On the day of the audit, confirm that all management will present for the opening meeting. As stated above, this is required and allows all management to know what is needed and when. As the quality manager, you have too many other things to think about, so make sure that you use your HACCP team and other management to help with the different parts of the audit.
Depending on the size of your company, this audit could take up several days to complete (~2-3 days).¹
What to do after the BRCGS audit
Once the audit is complete, there will be an exit meeting where all management should be present. The standard states that you have 28 days to complete the corrective action. As a team, expect to review any nonconformities and develop the expected timeline for the corrective actions.¹ Corrective actions often involve multiple departments, such as production and maintenance, replacing gaskets, and maintaining preventative maintenance.
How To Stay BRCGS Audit Ready
Now that you have successfully completed and passed your BRCGS audit, it is time to maintain your established standards. Document Compliance Network can take a tremendous amount of prep time off the hands of the quality department. Our program will automatically reach out to vendors and gather their missing or expired documentation throughout the year so that your documentation is up to date. Check out how much our program will save you time and money spent preparing for the audit using our audit calculator.
About The Author:
Daria Van De Grift is the Client Success Manager at Document Compliance Network. Daria handles customer service inquiries, software program set up, and creates relevant scientific content for the team.
Daria has received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State University.
BRCGS.”Issue 8 Food Sagery: Frequently Asked Questions”. 2019. brcgs.com.
BRCGS. “Quick Guide for Global Standards”. 2019. brcgs.com.