Industry forced to raise its hygiene standards

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Audit

Manufacturers will be expected to raise their food hygiene game considerably following the introduction of the sixth edition of the British Retail Consortium's (BRC's) global standards audit, which takes effect this month.

BRC version six will codify what has been considered best practice in the industry into a minimum standard, said Mike Law, chief certification officer at Cert ID a third-party auditor. While some manufacturers will be able to pass the new audit with only minor modifications to their procedures, ones that barely scraped through version five BRC audits should be worried, warned Law.

The first companies to be subjected to the new audit will also be at a disadvantage since they will have had less time to prepare themselves as the new standards were only published last July. Nor will they have the experiences of others to draw upon, added Law.

Cleaning and allergen control

Version six will place a much greater emphasis on cleaning and allergen control and manufacturers will have to demonstrate better attention to detail, said David Brackston, BRC technical director. Companies will have to prove why their cleaning techniques are effective, rather than merely showing that cleaning is being carried out, he added.

Attention to detail will extend to documentation of what foods workers bring on-site for lunch if facilities operate strict allergen policies, said Ron Rigby, industrial business manager at contract cleaner LPM. Manufacturers will also be required to demonstrate levels of factory cleanliness with independently verified laboratory swab tests of their facilities, said Law.

"If you say: 'I'm going to clean it using this detergent', it's now about showing how using that detergent, in that way, at that concentration will give the level of cleanliness expected,"​ he explained.

Version six will also be significantly more practical, with auditors spending more time in the factory itself, said Brackston. For example, inspections will be far more in-depth, with much closer examination of production machinery, provided this does not interfere with production.

"Typically, around half of the total auditing time should be associated with production areas and practical aspects, as opposed to sitting at a desk poring through procedures and quality manuals,"​ said Law.

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