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BRC or SQF for our future GFSI certification?


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#1 vkh

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 06:48 PM

I have been asked by my company to recommend either BRC or SQF for our future GFSI certification. Everything I am reading appears that there is little difference in the two ultimately. We are a manufacturer of Microwave and Ready to Eat popcorn if that helps any. I have read both standards repeatedly and quite frankly I don't know which would be the better choice. SQF seems to have more steps - first have to have the document audit, then the plant audit (as I understand it this can be for either/both level 2 and 3, is that correct?) Can the document audit be done at the same time as the plant audit, or must it be done separately? If done seperately how does the overall cost compare to BRC?

I appreciate any feedback you all have to offer! Thanks in advance.



#2 SQFconsultant

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:48 AM

I have been asked by my company to recommend either BRC or SQF for our future GFSI certification. Everything I am reading appears that there is little difference in the two ultimately. We are a manufacturer of Microwave and Ready to Eat popcorn if that helps any. I have read both standards repeatedly and quite frankly I don't know which would be the better choice. SQF seems to have more steps - first have to have the document audit, then the plant audit (as I understand it this can be for either/both level 2 and 3, is that correct?) Can the document audit be done at the same time as the plant audit, or must it be done separately? If done seperately how does the overall cost compare to BRC?

I appreciate any feedback you all have to offer! Thanks in advance.



I'm an SQF Registered Consultant and an SQF Contract Auditor and have conducted SQF audits for about five years now, frankly I find BRC to be a giant elephant in comparison to SQF and based on the new edition 7 that will begin after end of June I find that SQF is by far the best certification for North America.

Rarely does an Auditor conduct the stage 1 document audit back to back with the stage 2 certification audit because if there are items marked up on the stage 1 audit you just don't have the time to make the nessacery changes, additions, etc before going right into the certification audit.

And, if it is a matter of saving some money on expenses for travel, etc you may be able to find a CB that has Auditors that are willing to do off-site stage 1 documentaiton audits - I don't find that to be a good idea however.

You can visit www.sqfi.com and download the documents that will guide you as to why the audits are separate, etc.

Warm regards,

 

 

Glenn Oster

Glenn Oster Consulting, LLC

 

SQF Full System Development & Implementation Consultant

You can DIY or Bring in the Professionals - We are done in 30 days

 

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772.646.4115 // glenn@glennosterconsulting.com

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www.GlennOsterConsulting.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#3 GMO

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:31 AM

I only have first hand experience of BRC and to describe it as an elephant isn't very fair. It's not perfect (but then neither is SQF's understanding of HACCP terms under codex; how can a standard for food safety confuse validation and verification? I've no idea but SQF manages it.)

Ultimately I'd ask your customers what they want, also it's worth considering that BRC have just launched a new standard for auditing from Jan 12 so their standard will now stay the same until Jan 15. That might give some stability if you're looking to audit very soon.

Just to explain the audit process for BRC as it's changed this year; there are three types of audit you can do:

* All in one - documentation and factory are checked together, normally over 2 days but this is dependent on the size of your factory. The maximum score you can get with this audit is an 'A'
* Documentation one day (announced) and unannouced factory audit - normally 1 day each but again dependent on the size of your factory. You can't chose the day of the factory audit so this opens up more risk but the maximum score you can get is an 'A*'
* Fully unannounced - like the all in one but just on a random day - again you can get 'A*'
So if you are looking to separate the documentation and site audit sides you can do that under BRC



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#4 vkh

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:02 PM

Thanks GMO and GOC. I am curious though, what exactly do you mean by an "elephant"? Could you clarify please? Thanks!



#5 lisa64

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:05 PM

I had the same issue facing me 4 years ago - SQF or BRC. We went with SQF because everyone told me it was simpler in the long run and widely used in the United States. Since then we have gone into the European market very heavily and now have European customers refusing to accept SQF and wanting BRC. I am now being pushed by Sales to have our company certified under both programs. If you have customers outside the United States, you may want to consider BRC. I certainly did not expect to run into this problem.



#6 vkh

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:44 AM

Thanks lisa64. That is a help, as many of our customers are overseas. So much for the idea that any one of the GFSI audits does it all!



#7 Marshenko

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:40 AM

I had the same issue facing me 4 years ago - SQF or BRC. We went with SQF because everyone told me it was simpler in the long run and widely used in the United States. Since then we have gone into the European market very heavily and now have European customers refusing to accept SQF and wanting BRC. I am now being pushed by Sales to have our company certified under both programs. If you have customers outside the United States, you may want to consider BRC. I certainly did not expect to run into this problem.


That sounds about right.
SQF is far more prevalent in the United States because of Walmart mandating it... and considering they are the #1 grocer in the United States now... it is starting to trickle down, thus becoming more standard here.

Just glad my small company doesn't export :)

#8 vkh

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:39 PM

I was under the impression that Walmart preferred BRC, guess I was mistaken about that! It is almost sounding like I am going to have to do both. That does not thrill me at all :dunno:



#9 GMO

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:59 PM

Thanks GMO and GOC. I am curious though, what exactly do you mean by an "elephant"? Could you clarify please? Thanks!



I assumed GOC meant "white elephant" as in burdonsome and costly. Either that or just large and unwieldy.

#10 vkh

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:07 PM

thanks, that makes sense!



#11 ggansner

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:45 PM

Have you considered IFS? To be fair, I represent IFS in the Americas. IFS is growing in the US (US Foods has just taken our IFS Logistics standard for their storage and distribution facilities) and has more than 12,000 certifications globally. We are a very strong technical standard, but also flexible in that the processes belong to you - we don't tell you how to meet the requirements. One key difference between the standards is that BRC and SQF require closure of corrective actions within 28-30 days, respectively. With IFS, you get up to 12 months to make corrective actions - allowing you the flexibility to plan for corrective actions when it makes sense for your business. Like BRC, IFS includes an integrated quality component - with SQF you have to choose level 3.

We are accepted by Walmart and all other GFSI-committed retailers (Walmart DOES NOT MANDATE SQF or BRC - they fully accept all GFSI benchmarked standards.) Costco is also now accepting IFS.

IFS is prevalent in Europe - it was born there. But our US working group, made up of several high-profile US companies who either accept or use IFS in North America, had a very large impact on the development of the IFS standard for the new issue of IFS Food v6.

The standard is downloadable for free online at www.ifs-certification.com and I have attached it for your convenience. I would be more than happy to talk with you personally about the other benefits of IFS.

IFS is an option in North America that is growing. I recommend reading through the standard and deciding for yourself - not just what other companies do. The standard you choose should fit your business needs.

Best regards,

George Gansner
IFS Management

Attached Files



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#12 Simon

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:04 AM

Got to agree with George IFS has been around a long time and is on a par or bigger than BRC in some European countries. It certainly not a straight choice between SQF and BRC as IFS is one of the GFSI benchmarked standards, so is as good a choice as any. There are a lot of considerations when choosing your standard and these should also include the thoughts of your larger customers.

Regards,
Simon


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#13 vkh

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

Thanks George and Simon. I will look into IFS - Thanks for attaching the file, it was very thoughtful of you George. Simon, it is all those considerations I am trying to "discover". Having only dealt with AIB prior to this (or individual customer audits like P&G, Kroger) there was no decision involved!



#14 Charles.C

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:47 PM

Thanks lisa64. That is a help, as many of our customers are overseas. So much for the idea that any one of the GFSI audits does it all!


Dear vkh,

Perhaps inadvertently, this comment and the other posts in this thread may well be the practical reality. It would be very interesting indeed to know how far the GFSI "one for all" credo has been able to be implemented in practice.

Although not discussed in this thread, I believe there are also some fundamental differences in the orientation (and corresponding origins) of the standards mentioned. To complete one quartet, at least in theory, one could argue that FSSC 22000 is neutral to supplier / receiver bias. :smile:

Clearly, in your specific case, the conclusion may very well depend on where, and to who, you are exporting. Unless you can accept maintaining certification to at least 2 standards. If you read some more threads here, you will find that UK producers also find that, ultimately, receivers still require to make their own audits. The top of the QA pyramid perhaps ?. Hopefully you are not faced with this problem.

Rgds / Charles.C

PS - I am a little surprised that AIB are seemingly being marginalised thanks to GFSI. No direct experience of them myself but i got the impression from their hand-out documentation that they are quite competent also.

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#15 vkh

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:52 AM

I think what hurt AIB was the Peanut recall a few years back. Having been the auditing agency of that particular facility, they suffered, unjustly in my opinion. I have always felt I received thorough auditing from AIB, and always learned from them as well. Although I haven't had any audits from them in the past few years, I am told from others that they have become even stricter than GFSI in many ways. One would think that AIB would eventually become a GFSI auditing scheme, but in the meantime, they are a certification body for BRC and SQF, not sure about the others.



#16 Simon

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:17 AM

Hey VKH, if you're still around, which way did you go in the end...and why?

Would be interested to know.

 

Regards,

Simon


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#17 Tony-C

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 06:30 PM

I have been asked by my company to recommend either BRC or SQF for our future GFSI certification. Everything I am reading appears that there is little difference in the two ultimately. We are a manufacturer of Microwave and Ready to Eat popcorn if that helps any. I have read both standards repeatedly and quite frankly I don't know which would be the better choice. SQF seems to have more steps - first have to have the document audit, then the plant audit (as I understand it this can be for either/both level 2 and 3, is that correct?) Can the document audit be done at the same time as the plant audit, or must it be done separately? If done seperately how does the overall cost compare to BRC?

I appreciate any feedback you all have to offer! Thanks in advance.

 

Hi VKH,
Your answer really should be based on your customer or potential market preferences. It always pays to consult with customers and might help them to feel valued!
There are other GFSI benchmarked standards that may be applicable, the current list are:
GLOBAL G.A.P.
Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC 22000)
Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS)
CanadaGAP
SQF Code 7th Edition Level 2
BRC Global Standard For Food Safety Issue 6
BRC/IOP Global Standard For Packaging And Packaging Materials Issue 4
IFS Food

BRC quote a typical audit duration of 2 days which includes documentation.

SQF have a 1 day Desk audit which is followed by a 1 & half day facility audit. The beauty of this is you can put your documentation in order before the facility audit: 'The certification body shall notify the supplier of corrections or corrective action, or any aspects of the SQF System that require improvement or adjustment. The certification body will also verify that all corrections or corrective action for major and minor non-conformances have been addressed before proceeding with a facility audit.'

 

So the SQF certification may cost slightly more based on the extra half day quoted, however both the SQF Code and Guidance documents are free as opposed to BRC who charge for both the Standard and Guidance.

One final point, BRC offer an Unannounced Audit for sites previously audited grade A or B which may be popular with retailers/customers and worth considering if this is something you would want in the future.
 

Regards,

 

Tony






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