Are unannounced BRC audits a 'complete waste of time?'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Audit, Financial audit, Food, Brc

Mash Direct has been awarded an A* after unannounced BRC audits two years in a row
Mash Direct has been awarded an A* after unannounced BRC audits two years in a row
Less than 70 sites out of 12,000+ food production facilities audited to version five of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Food Safety Standard have opted for unannounced audits, FoodManufacture.co.uk has learned.

Under the latest version of the standard (v5), manufacturers that have achieved grades A or B can volunteer for unannounced audits, which carry a 'star' rating (Grade A*, B* etc).

However, only a handful of sites have put themselves forward, mainly due to fears that key staff might not be available to handle queries on the day of the audit, said one interim technical manager.

“Unannounced BRC audits are a complete waste of time. As long as the retailers do not ask for it as a requirement of supply then no one in their right mind is going to volunteer.”

He added: “The numbers speak for themselves. I have nothing else to add other than saying that when BRC put this forward they clearly could not have had their thinking heads on.”

Another technical manager added: “No one wants unannounced audits. People plan their calendar around audits to ensure the right people are available. This is particularly important in smaller companies.”

Risks vs rewards

While the take-up had been low, however, it was important to remember that the scheme was optional and that some manufacturers, particularly in the branded arena, saw value in it, said BRC senior technical services manager David Brackston.

Speaking at Food Manufacture’s Emerging Food Safety Issues conference this week, Brackston said that selecting the unannounced option also showed “confidence and maturity.

“I think having a B* on an unannounced audit is probably considered better than a straight A on an announced audit.”

But he accepted that “many manufacturers do feel that the risks of going down the unannounced route and cocking it up are too great”.

Click here​ to read more about version six of the BRC Global Food Safety Standard.

Related topics: Food Safety

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2 comments

Mr

Posted by Michael beattie,

Tesco are comeing to are factory tomorrow now the last time she was here she took her white coat and rub it on the shelf and has a touch with her they bringing it to a new level these are working factories and there is going to be a little mess you can't run the factory and have it spotless

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...Not necessarily!!

Posted by Paul Keogh,

The dangers highlighted in unannounced audits are clear in this article. However, by self-auditing on a regular basis to the same standard, the workforce will become more competent in their roles and comfortable with the requirements of an audit. The unannounced audit often strikes fear into people, although it shouldn’t as the company has already implemented procedures and if these are being followed there should be little problem in attaining a good audit mark.

It is important to maintain fully traceable records, including method statements, risk assessments, training records, HACCP and COSSH assessments when self-auditing to the latest BRC Global Standard.

Paul Keogh, LPM Cleaning

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