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The BRC Global Standard  - Packaging and Other Packaging Materials

Useful resources
Hygiene Training for Food Packaging
If you are preparing a hygiene training programme for your employees and you need ideas, visit our secure online store to review our training CD-ROM's, booklets and posters: Online Store
Do you need help developing a system to meet the requirements of the BRC Global Standard – Food Packaging?
If you are planning to achieve Certification to the BRC Global Standard – Food Packaging and require assistance - visit the Food Safety Standards Directory to find an Expert Consultant for the BRC Global Standard – Food Packaging
Are you ready for a Certification Audit to the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging?
If you are ready for a certification audit - visit the Food Safety Standards Directory to find an: Accredited Certification Body for the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging

Ask an Expert in Our Online Discussion Forum
If you are developing a system to meet the requirements of the BRC Global Standard - Packaging and you need to ask a question visit our free access: discussion forums.

BRC Global Standard - Packaging
Issue 2 of the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging and Other Packaging Materials was published on 31 August 2004. SaferPak have reviewed Issue 2 of the Standard and developed a free guide to the revisions: Download Review Guide (pdf 147kb). Copies of the revised Standard can be purchased from the TSO Bookstore.

Overview of the standard
The need for a standard
Requirements of the standard
Benefits of certification
Do I need it?
Content of the standard
Certification bodies
Implementation guide
Jargon review
Add a resource

Overview of the standard
The BRC Global Standard - Packaging was published on 17 October 2001 following two years of development by The British Retail Consortium and The Institute of Packaging in consultation with a wide variety of retailers, food producers, trade associations and packaging companies. Many of the large UK's retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Safeway, Co-op, Tesco and Waitrose have stated that suppliers of retailer branded packaging must achieve certification to the BRC Global Standard - Packaging. The Standard has been welcomed by the majority of the packaging industry and significant numbers of packaging businesses both in the UK and overseas have already achieved certification or are working towards it.

The need for a standard
Reports of deaths and illnesses caused by poor food safety have grown in frequency over the last 20 years or so and in order to protect the consumer, The Food Safety Act 1990 was established and later The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 (EU Food Safety Directive 93/43/EEC).

Under the terms of the Food Safety Act, retailers have an obligation to take all reasonable precautions and exercise all due diligence in the avoidance of failure, whether in the development, manufacture, distribution, advertising or sale of food products to the consumer. To aid due diligence the BRC Global Standard - Food was launched in 1998 and it was inevitable that a common auditing standard for packaging companies would soon follow.

The standard has become the benchmark by which audits are undertaken and has superseded previous hygiene certification schemes.

Requirements of the standard
The adoption of a formal Hazard Analysis System
A documented Technical Management System
The control of factory standards, products, processes and personnel

 Benefits of certification
Supported by most of the major UK Retailers
A single standard and protocol, evaluations will be carried out by a third party certification bodies accredited to European standard EN45011
Single verification will allow manufacturers and suppliers to report on their status to food retailers and other organisations
The standard addresses part of the 'due diligence' requirements of the packaging manufacturer/supplier, packer/filler and retailer
Facilitates continuous improvement of quality, hygiene and product safety through surveillance non-conformities and corrective action
Should significantly reduce the number of customer audits and their associated management costs
Packaging manufacturers can use the standard to ensure their suppliers are following good hygiene practices and complete the 'due diligence' chain

Do I need it?
If you are a manufacturer or supplier of packaging and your products are used with retailer branded food products the answer is most probably - YES! The requirements of the standard differ depending on the risk your products present to the food. In the standard there is a simple 'decision tree' that will help you determine whether you are a category 'B' supplier and must meet the higher level requirements of the standard, or a category 'A' supplier for whom the requirements are a little less rigorous.

The standard is flexible and allows suppliers to operate both category A and B standards in separate 'risk areas' of the factory. In addition suppliers may apply for exemptions to certain clauses of the standard if they can be identified and confirmed through the hazard analysis

Content of the standard
The standard consists of eight sections plus an associated protocol. Each section sets out a statement of intent and all packaging suppliers will need to comply with this statement in order to gain certification.

1. Scope
General overview of the standard, who the standard applies to and what the requirements of the standard are.

2. Organisation
Covers the requirements for the organisation in terms of management responsibility, organisational structure and management review.

3. Hazard and risk management system
Covers the requirements for a formal hazard analysis of the production process considering foreign object, chemical and microbiological contamination as well as packaging defects that compromise consumer safety.

4. Technical management system
Covers the quality and hygiene policy, hygiene system documentation and control, specifications, management of incidents and product recall, traceability system, internal audits, complaints, supplier monitoring, subcontracting and product analysis.

5. Factory standards
Covers the requirements for the building infrastructure, facilities and fabric, product flow, maintenance of equipment, housekeeping, cleaning and waste management.

6. Contamination control
Covers the requirements for foreign object training, glass control, blade control, chemical and biological control, pest control and transport, storage and distribution.

7. Personnel
Covers the access and movement of personnel, staff facilities, toilets and hand washing, eating, drinking and smoking, illness and injury, jewellery and personal items, protective clothing and hygiene training.

8. Risk category determination
In this section the supplier uses the decision tree to determine whether they are a category A or B risk supplier.

Certification bodies
It is a requirement that the certification bodies evaluating against the standard are formally accredited to the European standard EN45011 (General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems). Formal accreditation of a certification body can only be granted by a National accreditation body; in Great Britain this Body is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

In other countries this includes National accreditation bodies which are members or associate members of EA (European Co-operation for Accreditation) or subject to bi-lateral or multilateral agreements. Accreditation is awarded after a detailed assessment has found that the certification body complies with all of the criteria of EN45011.

Over 30 Certification Bodies have been accredited by a national Accreditation Body to EN45011. An up to date list containing full contact details for these organisations can be found at the following page: BRC Global Standard - Packaging | Accredited Certification Bodies.

Implementation guide
Achieving the The BRC Global Standard - Packaging can be relatively easy or very difficult; this depends to a large extent on how mature and well developed your current technical/hygiene management system is. If you are an established supplier of packaging to the UK or European food industry it should be a case of evolution rather than revolution.

To ensure a smooth transition to the BRC Global Standard - Packaging it is essential to have a good action plan. The following plan is provided as a guide and assumes that you have already recognised (or your customers have) that you must achieve the standard.

Tip: If you feel that you need external help developing your system we offer a range of services to help you: Read more about our services.

1. Research the subject
Buy a copy of the standard
and carry out the decision tree analysis to determine whether your company is a category A or B risk supplier.

2. Carry out a gap analysis
Carry out a gap analysis of your current technical/hygiene management system against the requirements of the BRC Global Standard - Packaging. Determine the procedures you need to write or amend, any building or facility upgrades that may be necessary, as well as additional services and/or equipment that may need to be purchased. Get quotes for everything and draft a project proposal including cost, time and human resource needs.

3.Take the proposal to senior management
Show senior management requests received from customers requiring you to achieve the standard, this should help to secure commitment. Explain the scope and requirements of the standard, what you need to do to achieve it, and how much it is going to cost them. Be prepared to compromise, but not too much (you have the standard on your side). Try to sell them some benefits (a significant reduction in the number of customer audits is a good one). Work with senior management to draft the policy and define management responsibility.

4. Run a workshop with all Managers/Supervisors
Explain why the standard is required and the benefits it can bring (less customer audits, consistency of message, increased productivity). Inform them what changes will be required and how this will affect them. Build your Hazard Analysis team from this group. Helping identify the hazards within their process will facilitate greater understanding and they will be more likely to take ownership of solutions, controls and procedures, and this is vital.

5. Carry out the Hazard Analysis with your team
HACCP is not a requirement of the BRC Global Standard - Packaging, however, it is the universal method for conducting a food safety hazard analysis and the methodology does provide a useful framework for conducting a hazard analysis in a food packaging context. Covered in detail in the HACCP resource.

6. Brief all remaining employees
To ensure wide commitment to and effectiveness of the technical/hygiene management system, it is critical that all employees understand, at the very least, the basics requirements of the standard and what their responsibilities will be. After all it is the front line staff who will be expected to put the procedures and controls into practice and they can make or break the system.

7. Develop the systems
Develop the procedures and purchase essential equipment, roll out the procedures as they are developed. (one small sentence but a lot of hard work!).

8. Audit and refine the procedures
Procedures may look great in a manual, but often they do not reflect what is happening in practice. Audit new procedures frequently until they become standard practice. Once a procedure is standard practice the audit frequency may be reduced.

9. Get your system evaluated
A list of accredited organisations who are fully authorised to issue certificates of compliance against the BRC Global Standard - Packaging is available in the Buyers Guide. The certification process consists of an intensive initial evaluation (usually one or two days depending on the size and complexity of your operation).

If you comply with all of the requirements of the standard (at the first attempt) you will gain certification and you should give yourself a mighty pat on the back! However, in most cases some non-conformities will be identified and these will need to be addressed before Certification can be achieved.

Following certification evaluations are every 6 months although the frequency may be reduced to 12 months for continued demonstration of compliance to the requirements of the standard.

Jargon Review
EN45011 The standard for the European Accreditation of bodies who are involved in certification.
BRC The British Retail Consortium.
Certification body Companies who have gained accreditation to EN 45011 for the scope of the BRC Global Standard - Packaging.
Consumer The end user of an item, commodity or service.
Contamination The action of making impure or hazardous, usually caused by foreign object, chemical or microbiological means.
Evaluation A systematic examination to measure compliance of practices with a pre-determined system, whether the system is implemented effectively and is suitable to achieve objectives, carried out by certified bodies.
Decision tree A diagrammatical tool to aid in making the decision whether category 'A' or category 'B' risk supplier.
Due diligence Demonstration that all reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent a food product causing harm to the consumer. (a legal defence).
HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.
IOP The Institute of Packaging.
Retailer branded products Products bearing a Retailer's logo, copyright, address, or are products that are legally regarded as the responsibility of the retailer.
Risk The likelihood of occurrence of harm from a hazard.
Traceability The ability to trace back to all components and records of a manufactured product.
UKAS The United Kingdom Accreditation Service. Recognised by the British Government as the sole national body responsible for assessing and accrediting the competence of organisations in the fields of measurement, testing, inspection and certification of systems, products and personnel.







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