Unannounced BRC Audits – Prepare Properly

5 September, 2013
Ashley Tait

ASDA have been the first of the major multiples to announce that processors supplying them with own brand products can expect unannounced BRC audits.

In terms of fallout from the horsemeat scandal, this move is the first major indication that the supermarkets are really going to tighten up their control of the supply chain.

And they have to.

Consumer confidence in mass produced food has taken a huge knock this year and it’ll take some effort to restore faith in what is becoming, in many instances, an increasingly convoluted supply chain.

ASDA might be the first to outline their plans for extra audits, but there’s every chance that the other major supermarkets will follow suit. Under normal circumstances a BRC audit can be a testing time for a technical manager, but an unannounced audit can prove much more difficult to deal with.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. If you’re worried that you may have to undergo a surprise audit you still have time to prepare well and get your plant into shape.

Training

Relevant Food Safety and HACCP training can give your staff a much greater insight into how best to manage their plant. Make sure all your key staff are fully trained up by an accredited service provider. Online courses can help, but a detailed face-to-face seminar is probably the best way to get to grips with your specific plant’s issues.

Gap Analysis and Pre-Audit

Have a think about your plant. Are you certain it’d pass an unannounced BRC audit right this second? If the answer is no, or you’re at all unsure then a detailed 2nd party Gap Analysis or Pre-Audit might give you an idea of any underlying issues.  If you organise one and nothing untoward is unearthed then you can rest easy. However, if any unknown issues arise you should at least have time to remedy the problem.

Paperwork

Paperwork is massively important to the BRC audit. If you don’t have training records, HACCP plans and the relevant reviews and records up-to-date you’ll be fighting against failure from the start. Try and keep as much evidence to support what you’re doing as you can. Also, bear in mind that paper based systems aren’t always foolproof and can often be neglected or misplaced. Why not look at electronic or online methods of record keeping? These can often help highlight potential irregularities and issues much more effectively.

In food processing terms 2013 looks like it is set to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. However, for all the scandals and unwelcome surprises the industry has endured, there is also a perfect opportunity for technical managers to tighten up their operation, improve staff training and embrace more streamlined and focussed record keeping methods.

From HACCP training to BRC focussed Gap Analysis audits, SFQC can help your business make the most of its food processing certification. To find out how we can help you contact us today on 0131 335 6600. 

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