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SQF Level 2 vs BRC experience, advice

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Posted 24 November 2015 - 11:10 PM

Hi All,


We are a raw hamburger patty processor. We have a robust QMS in place already and are also audited 6 monthly by our large globally known customer to their own very long standard (70+ pages). On their long standard is a requirement to be certified also to a GFSI benchmarked standard.


Am looking at choosing between BRC and SQF level 2. I imagine SQF level two may have a few less requirements as it does not consider quality but only food safety whereas BRC considers quality. Any thoughts from people who've already gone through this kind of process with either BRC/SQF or both? 



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Posted 25 November 2015 - 01:03 PM


         I currently work at an establishment working towards their SQF lv.2 from just a HACCP system & previously worked in a BRC program for several years. Both systems do look at Quality & Safety, BRC includes alot of ethical and environmental factors but both systems are very similar.



Hope this helps, or if you have any other or further questions. 

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 09:29 PM


We operate under several HACCP plans including Raw Ground and Raw Not-Ground in the USA. After careful consideration several years ago we choose to go with SQF. We have been SQF Level 2 certified for several years and have been fairly happy with our choice. We have discussed with others their BRC program and have come to the conclusion that the programs are very similar, but the SQF seems to pertain more to our operation. 


Which ever you choose just keep moving forward and we wish you luck.


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Chris DeV

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 09:35 PM

Hi Ragga,


I've been audited under BRC, SQF L2 andSQF L3. In my experience only (with multiple auditors), here is the way I would break it down:


1. BRC - Focus on both Quality and Safety aspects with just a slighter edge to Food Safety with focus on the facility, GMPs, and supporting programs.

2. SQF L2 - Lots of focus on pre-requisite programs, food safety programs, validation, and facility adherence to those programs. Not much Quality, but some, in regards to material approvals, finished goods testing, etc.

3. SQF L3 - Same as Level 2, except everything program related as far as the overall Food Safety Plan, is now applied to Quality. Basically making a HACCP based program, except instead of just Critical Control Points, you also have Quality Control Points and validations.


I hope this helps somewhat. This is my personal experience, but most auditors stick to their auditing guidance principles. So, depending on which scheme you go with, always read the auditor and supplier guidance portions and know them, perhaps better than the regular audit elements. Generally, you won't go wrong.




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Posted 02 January 2016 - 01:37 AM

Overall BRC and SQF are both GFSI standards and there are many of the same items on both.

SQF is rather heavy on pre-requisites and other documentation.

From difficulty of development standard point it has always worked out that BRC takes more time to put together, implement and get certified in comparison to SQF.

We've handled a lot of SQF and even though we offered it, very few BRC clients.

Got to the point where we just handled SQF and referred our BRC potentials to other consultants.

For you the best is probably SQF.

Glenn Oster

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Glenn Oster
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Posted 02 January 2016 - 06:21 AM

Hi Ragga,


3 comments. I have direct experience BRC only.


Assuming SQF level2, both Standards claim to be nominally "FSMS".


Scope -  BRC is often a UK customer defined requirement. It subtly adds in some non-FS topics related to the requirements for UK's legal "due diligence". This leads to, IMO, a confusing presentation from a FS POV plus increased (unwanted?) deliberations over requirements. Afaik, SQF avoids this via Level3. The result IMO is that BRC requires more initial study so as to simply know how to get started if without a Consultant. And sometimes even with a Consultant.


haccp - both Standards state to follow haccp-Codex with an additional option of NACMCF for SQF. BRC seem to generally adhere quite closely to current Codex. SQF for some topics less so.

Both Standards offer Interpretive Guidelines free/non-free respectively. Both Guidelines seem to typically offer conservative viewpoints of the Standard's requirements. The official BRC Guidance material (non-free) seems to be quite current and feedback reasonably transparent where interpretive conflicts occur at audit. The SQF Guidance (free) is a fantastic asset but seems rather static regarding updates, eg sometimes misaligned to advice on the website. I get the impression from some threads here that for a few topics SQF demands an awareness as to what the auditor expects to see, regardless of the Standard/Guidance. Maybe the majority of SQF auditees will disagree. Ideally such aspects would seem to fall within the Practitioner function which only exists in SQF ?. Feedback I'm unsure (no direct experience, the website FAQ seems rather "constant").



The "scoring" systems are clearly different. This may have (+/-) consequences. :dunno:


Every FS Standard IMO will have some pros/cons ( "mystifications/frustrations.") The practical impact may relate to yr specific product/process/available resources.

Implementing BRC is surely aided by possession of its Guidance material. SQF seems mostly aided but occasionally misled. If the SQF Guidance were fully updated, I would rate it a potentially critical plus, and especially from a financial POV.

Kind Regards,



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