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4.4.1 - Risk-based sampling rate and assessment process

BRC agents & brokers Sampling Risk assessment

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#1 Cuis


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Posted 21 December 2015 - 02:38 PM

Hello everyone,

                        I'm trying to do the "risk-based" sample rate and assessment requested in 4.4.1 of BRC for Agents & Brokers.


The clause says:



The company shall have a product sampling or assurance programme to verify that products are in accordance with buying specifications and meet legal and safety requirements.  Where verification is based on sampling, the sample rate and assessment process shall be risk-based.  Records of the results of assessments or analysis shall be maintained.


The word "risk assessment" and I don't get on well each other. 


I tried listing all the possible hazards in the products we trade (dried fruits, nuts and seeds). 


then listing if there is any regulation related to the hazard, if any detection in RASSF, FSA, FDA, Food Safety Watch, etc, and if we have had complaints from our customers and any detection on samples sent to the lab. but I still don't know how to determine the frequency of the testing. 


1. Can I say that if there is regulation for that hazard (i.e Aflatoxins), and a complaint was received during last year then x % of the imported containers will be tested? 


Hazard          Product               Regulation        RASFF, FSA      Complaints  Testing      Test Required    Number of test

Salmonella    Sesame seeds      No                    RASFF               NO             ok                 No                      ??

Aflatoxins       Brazil nuts            Yes                        Yes                 Yes          Ok                Yes                     ??


2. How can I determine the amount of containers to be tested?


I hope to be clear :) 

Thanks in advance for your help

#2 Charles.C


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Posted 21 December 2015 - 06:58 PM

Hi cuis,


Not familiar with this particular standard but I can offer some possibilities based on BRC food which has a similar component.


I assume –


(1) you have product specifications which relate to legality/safety. And a haccp plan (required?) ?

(2) some form of (plausibly representative) random lot sampling/testing is currently being performed in respect to the specifications.


The direct route is obviously to generate a sampling plan based on risk assessment. Some examples exist here for auditing plans.


An alternative approach which some people seem to have acceptably used is to interpret the meaning of verification from a risk POV. This “reverse” approach is illustrated in these threads –






Maybe helpful if you are stuck.

Kind Regards,



#3 Cuis


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Posted 22 December 2015 - 07:08 PM

Hi Charles,

               Thank you for your post. Indeed I saw that posts yesterday and I took the probability/severity matrix from there. 


1. Yes, the products have some legal requirements as aflatoxins, SO2, Sorbic acid, etc so I'm using this. Nothing on the HACCP as this is just an office. We don't even see the cartons. 


2. Yes, there was a testing regime that makes no sense.  :secret:


I guess that the most difficult part if to decide the frequency of testing. What is too much and what is not sufficient? Plus we received Certs from the suppliers.


I will keep working and if I'm stuck again I will ask for more help. 


thank you and Happy Christmas and the best for the New Year!

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