BRC Certification

BRC Certification is the most popular food safety certification worldwide. There are many reasons for this including the fact that the two main BRC Standards BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7 and BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 4 are GFSI Approved Standards. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) carries out a benchmarking process in which a food safety certification scheme is compared to the GFSI Guidance Document. All of the major food safety certification schemes are benchmarked and approved by GFSI.


First introduced in 1998, the BRC Global Standards for Food Safety was the first Standard to be recognised as meeting the GFSI benchmark in 2000. The current edition of the BRC Standards BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is Issue 7 which was published in July 2011. The standard covers food safety management in food manufacturing and packing. The BRC Food Standard was one of the original GFSI Benchmarked schemes and is used around the world with certificates in over 100 countries and has Currently there are over 15,000 sites in 100 countries around the world that have BRC Food Certification.


BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7 is approved by GFSI for the following scopes:


  • D Pre Processing Handling of Plant Products
  • EI Processing of Animal Perishable Products
  • EII Processing of Plant Perishable Products
  • EIII Processing of Animal and Plant Perishable Products (Mixed Products)
  • EIV Processing of Ambient Stable Products
  • L Production of (Bio) Chemicals

BRC first published the Packaging Standard in 2002. BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 4 is the first packaging standard to be benchmarked by GFSI. The standard covers the assurance and hygienic manufacture of packaging materials. Currently there are over 2,000 sites around the world that have BRC Packaging Certification.


BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 4 is approved by GFSI for the following scope: M Production of Food Packaging

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7 is approved by GFSI for the following scopes:


  • 1. Senior Management Commitment
  • 2. The Food Safety Plan – HACCP
  • 3. Food Safety And Quality Management System
  • 4. Site Standards
  • 5. Product Control
  • 6. Process Control
  • 7. Personnel


Suppliers are required to comply with all relevant clauses of the standard; however there are clauses which are regarded as ‘Fundamental Requirements’. Non-compliance with these clauses results in failure to gain BRC certification:


  • Senior Management Commitment Clause 1.1
  • The Food Safety Plan – HACCP Clause 2
  • Internal Audits Clause 3.4
  • Corrective Action Clause 3.7
  • Traceability Clause 3.9
  • Layout, Product Flow and Segregation Clause 4.3
  • Housekeeping and Hygiene Clause 4.11
  • Management of Allergens Clause 5.2
  • Control of Operations Clause 6.1
  • Training Clause 7.1


The process of gaining BRC certification will vary with the size and complexity of an organisation and the extent to which food safety system have been developed.


The steps to BRC Food Certification (a similar path can be applied to BRC Packaging certification) are as follows:


Step 1 Obtain a Copy of the BRC Standard – You can purchase and download a copy of the standard from


Step 2 Training – You will need at least one person who has a good knowledge of the BRC Standard. This can be self taught or there are training courses offered including BRC Approved Partner Training, more details of which can be found at


Step 3 Gap Analysis – You will need to carry out a gap analysis to identify where your current food safety management system fails to meet the requirement of the BRC standard. BRC Global Standards Self-Assessment Tool which is provided by BRC as one of their free Guidance Documents here


Step 4 Corrective Actions – Your gap analysis will identify corrective actions that are required in order to meet the requirements of the standard and progress to BRC certification. Quite often these actions will need to be reviewed by Senior Management as financial and human resources could be needed in order to progress. This stage can take quite a lot of time and resource depending on the standards of the facility and the extent of the food safety management system.


Step 5 Choose a Certification Body – You will now need to choose a certification body, you may be aware of local certification body or you can use the BRC Global Standards Directory to find a suitable certification body. There is sometimes some confusion between Accreditation Bodies and Certification Bodies: Accreditation Bodies approve Certification Bodies to ISO/IEC Guide 65 (succeeded by ISO/IEC 17065) Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services to ensure that certification bodies operate to acceptable standards. Certification Bodies in turn assess Food Safety Management Systems and Issue BRC Certificates.


Step 6 Agree Scope of the Audit – The scope of the audit should be agreed with the certification body including manufacturing facilities and products.


Step 7 Agree a Contract – The certification body should provide a proposal for the certification process and provide a contract.


Step 8 Audit Planning – A plan for the audit should be prepared with dates and schedule for the audit days. A certification audit normally takes two days but may be longer depending on the size and complexity of the operation.


Step 9 On-site Audit – The On-site audit will consist of a programme that includes the following:

  • Opening Meeting – Introductions and confirmation of schedule
  • Document Review – HACCP & Quality Management System
  • Traceability Challenge
  • Production Facility Inspection
  • Closing Meeting – Review of findings and summary of non-conformances


Step 10 Non-conformities and Corrective Action – At the end of the on-site audit a summary of the non-conformances found are presented. The organisation then has 28 days to confirm and present evidence of corrective actions.


Step 11 Grading of the Audit & Certification – The Final Audit Report and Certificate should be provided by the certification body within 42 Days of the on-site audit. The audit is graded based on the number and type of non-conformances found. The grading system is A to C for a passed audit. For established organizations a + is added if an unannounced audit is passed.

The audit is graded as follows:

  • Grade A up to 10 Minor non-conformances
  • Grade B/ 11 to 20 Minor non-conformances
  • Grade C 21 to 30 Minor non-conformances or 1 Major non-conformance and 11 to 30 Minor non-conformances or 2 Major non-conformances and 1 to 20 Minor non-conformances
  • Production Facility Inspection
  • Closing Meeting – Review of findings and summary of non-conformances


A Critical Non-Conformity or a Major Non-Conformity against a Fundamental Clause will result in on-certification and a re-audit at a later stage. Certification is also not granted if there is more than 1 Critical non-conformance, more than 3 Major non-conformances, 2 Major non-conformances and more than 20 Minor non-conformances or more than 31 Minor non-conformances.


Once you have achieved BRC certification there may be opportunities to expand your business, certified organizations are listed in the BRC Global Standards Directory where buyers can access and view the details of your organisation and extent of your certification.