In 1998 the British Retail Consortium (BRC) developed and introduced the BRC technical standard and protocol for companies supplying retailer branded food products The first standard was the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety which is now at Issue 9.
The four other main BRCGS standards that have since been added are :
The purpose of these five standards is to ensure that all retailer branded food/consumer items are manufactured, packaged and distributed according to a defined set of guidelines and procedures ensuring product safety and consumer confidence. The common theme in all standards is the need to identify reasonably foreseeable hazards and risk assess your process in order to implement the necessary control measures. Risk based thinking is the common theme running through all standards.
Regardless of which end of the food/product supply chain a business operates, due diligence is one of the most essential elements of business continuity. Achieving BRCGS Certification against the relevant BRCGS standard not only allows companies demonstrate due diligence, it also opens business opportunities with the most powerful sector in the supply chain, the retailer. The first step to achieving certification is to learn and understand your relevant standard.
BRCGS Packaging Materials Issue 6 introduces the concept of Food Safety & Quality Culture which has been an integral part of the food standard for a number of years. Culture assesses the level of shared knowledge amongst a group of people so that all the hazards in the business are understood and control measures established to reduce the Risk. Issue 6 also attempts to simplify the hygiene requirements based on Risk. For this objective to be successful, packaging personnel must understand how to calculate Risk and know when risk is acceptable or unacceptable. This is particularly applicable to the fundamental clause of hygiene and housekeeping. To further emphasize the importance of this clause, Issue 6 has introduced the need for microbiological environmental monitoring base on risk.
Ultimately the BRCGS Packaging Materials Standard has never been more aligned with the Food Standard and the expectation from a primary packaging manufacturer is very similar to a food manufacturer from a hygiene and safety standpoint.