Learn what the British Retail Consortium is all about and its role in standardizing food safety and retail quality.
Published 28 Apr 2022
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is a trade association founded by retailers in the UK in 1992. It aims to promote the interests of retailers across different sectors by providing training, expert advice, quality benchmarking, and related services. Among the most important contributions of the BRC is the Global Food Standard for Food Safety in 1998, which has become a hallmark of food safety standards across the globe.
The BRC Global Standards are among the leading safety and quality certification programs across the globe. They comprise nine standards across a variety of sectors in retail and manufacturing.
This benchmarking by the BRC began with the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety in 1998 and has expanded to other areas such as Retail, Consumer Products, Packaging Materials, and more. In February 2019, it rebranded itself as the Brand Reputation through Compliance with Global Standards (BRCGS).
This section explores each of the global standards under the BRCGS.
BRC Global Standards
The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety was first developed by food industry experts in the British Retail Consortium. It offers a comprehensive set of standards for food safety, product integrity, quality, and legality. It touches upon various operational controls for manufacturing, handling, and processing food products.
Now in its eighth version, the Global Standard for Food Safety has received recognition from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). This governing body aims to harmonize global food safety systems and improve the safety and quality of food products.
The Global Standard for Packaging Materials is an international industry benchmark for safe, quality, and legal packaging products. It evaluates a product’s quality, authenticity, and compliance with existing laws and regulations to meet consumer needs. This standard is ideal for all producers and suppliers of packaging materials.
The Global Standard for Consumer Products aims to foster best practices and mitigate risks in producing consumer products. Manufacturers, retailers, and specifiers of non-food raw materials and finished products belong to this type of certification.
This certification program consists of two levels:
The BRC Consumer Products Standard also provides two parts to accommodate different product types:
The Global Standard for Storage and Distribution deals with the transport and logistics side of the supply chain. It sets a benchmark for safely transporting products and managing risks along the way. It emphasizes good operating and handling practices in distributing food and non-food products across supply chains.
This standard applies to companies with logistical operations in food, consumer, and packaging products.
The Global Standard for Agents and Brokers targets the non-manufacturing sectors in product management systems. It establishes transparency measures and traceability chains for companies involved in product trade.
Establishments that fall under this umbrella include those who purchase, sell, and facilitate the trading of food and non-food products, such as:
Just like its name suggests, the Global Standard for Retail provides a quality management framework specifically for retailers. It guarantees safe and quality products for consumers by setting relevant benchmarks for delivering services and goods to the public. This standard includes metrics for management control systems in retail service providers.
Companies involved in the retail of food and other consumer goods can get certified for this program.
The Global Standard for Ethical Trade and Responsible Sourcing establishes criteria to promote sustainable operation and management systems. It furthers transparency across supply chains and upholds worker rights through security protocols, fair work practices, safe working environments, and other initiatives. Legal, moral, and safety obligations fall under this standard.
This certification standard has received acknowledgment from the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), a program under the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). It covers the following industries:
The Plant-Based Certification Program provides a gold standard for plant-based products. It ensures that products are free of animal-based materials through operational and management systems criteria. Establishing transparency in the food production process guarantees that only safe, quality, and uncontaminated plant-based products reach the consumer.
The Gluten-Free Certification Program sets the standard for manufacturing gluten-free food products. It takes a scientific approach in managing gluten controls in the production systems to prevent gluten cross-contamination from the raw materials to the final product. Leading celiac organizations worldwide promote this certification for gluten-free food items.
The BRC has a crucial role in upholding food safety and quality standards around the globe. The organization assists retailers in food safety, product labeling, nutrition, incident handling, and other relevant activities. It also promotes responsible food production standards by providing useful insights and setting benchmarks for process controls.
Its hallmark contribution to the food industry is the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. First established in 1998, this certification program has expanded to over 20,000 manufacturing sites in 130 countries. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has recognized this standard as a benchmark for international food safety standards.
The Global Standard for Food Safety cultivates a culture of product safety by:
True to its name, the BRC is a key player for retail organizations inside and outside the United Kingdom. It aims to empower retailers as critical actors in the supply chains in different sectors through its programs and services.
For example, the organization provides retailers with insights about the British retail market. It offers data and analysis of the retail industry’s performance and its key drivers in the British economy. It also allows them to see how they match up against the market trends.
Aside from this, the BRC has also founded benchmarks for domestic and international retailers. The Global Standard for Retail certification standardizes operations for retailers to improve their processes. By establishing efficiency and control metrics, they can measure their performance and streamline their operations. Having such a standard instills consumer confidence and boosts brand reputation.
The BRC Certification follows a straightforward process for all businesses. Any business can apply for a certificate, regardless of whether a member of the BRC or not. Upon passing the audit from a certifying body, your company can gain its certification.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started on the certification process.
How to Get BRC Certification
The BRC has over nine certification programs that apply to different sectors—from Retail and Consumer Products to Storage and Distribution. Choose the global standard/s that best suit your business description and processes. For example, if you specialize in food products, you can benefit from the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety certification.
Once you find the best standard for your business, you need to find relevant information. It’s vital to do your research in order to know the description, requirements, and certification process for the one you’re applying for. The BRC Global Standards website offers booklets, training, and other resources to help you comprehend what the certification entails.
Preparation is key before getting certified. It’s best to check if your company already complies with the BRC standards. Tools such as gap analysis and internal audits can help you identify gaps in your process and implement corrective actions early on.
Digital platforms such as iAuditor by SafetyCulture can streamline this process for you. Using one allows you to document all aspects of your business processes. It also contains features that help you spot trends and areas of concern and proactively solve them.
Once you’re satisfied with your internal checks, you’re now ready to get BRC-certified. Various third-party certification bodies worldwide provide audit reports and verify compliance with BRC Global Standards. Find a certification body near your area with the BRC database.
iAuditor is an all-in-one digital platform to manage your operations and verify compliance with BRC standards. It lets you maintain a digital record of your internal audits, spot errors in your processes, and bridge any gap to meet the BRC requirements. With iAuditor, you can do the following actions:
This self-assessment template streamlines your efforts in meeting the BRC Food Safety standards in its eighth version. Evaluate your current standing against the criteria using quantitative metrics. Add notes and assign tasks to designated teams to correct mishaps. Monitor your business’ progress towards adhering to the BRC certification requirements using this template.
This template allows organizations to perform self-audits on their operations and ensure compliance with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards. It covers over 17 sections for food safety management systems, operational controls, hazard analyses, and verification safeguards. With this template, you can identify points for improvement and accomplish the form with a digital signature for transparency.
Managers can use this template to conduct hazard analyses and establish critical control points in their food production process. Identify physical, chemical, and biological hazards throughout the operations and assign actions to immediate concerns. Easily sign off with a digital signature to promote accountability across teams.
Leizel Estrellas is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. Her academic and professional training as a researcher allows her to write meaningful articles that create a lasting impact. As a content specialist, she strives to promote a culture of safety in the workplace through accessible and reader-friendly content. With her high-quality work, she is keen on helping businesses across industries identify issues and opportunities to improve every day.
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