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Switch to BRC while SQF surveillance Audit


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Migi_chu

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 02:50 AM

Food Safety Practitioners I need your help and guidance if possible. I work for a small bakery and we recently got a surprise audit and we failed. We now have to go through the SQF surveillance audit but the owners dont want to pay for that and would rather pay for a BRC audit instead. Could we cancel the SQF certification and go with BRC? please let me know if this is possible, they want to save money and not pay the surveillance audit and start "fresh" with a BRC cert. I just got hired with this company because of the fail. 



Gerard H.

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 08:18 AM

Dear Migi Chu,

 

First question is, why do the owners wish to change the certification scheme from SQF to BRC? 

 

If the only reason is the "surprise" audit, then I recommend to reconsider their wish to change, because:

  • You need to have the certificate that is required by your customers
  • BRC has equivalent requirements as SQF, as it is a GFSI recognized certification scheme
  • Maybe the owners are just not happy with the certification body 
  • "Surprise" or unannounced audits are getting more and more usual. Instead of switching toward other schemes, it may be better to put efforts in the preparation of such type of audits

I hope the above gives some input for further reflection.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gerard Heerkens



R Karthigeyan

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 12:42 PM

Dear Migi chu,

Mr Gerard is right 

 

if your owner think about unannounced, convince your owners  not to change scheme 

 

other wise

 

1. what is the requirement of customer based on their requirement fix whether BRC or IFS

2.implementation of scheme on effective manner will reduce the failure during unannounced audit



Charles.C

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 01:06 PM

Food Safety Practitioners I need your help and guidance if possible. I work for a small bakery and we recently got a surprise audit and we failed. We now have to go through the SQF surveillance audit but the owners dont want to pay for that and would rather pay for a BRC audit instead. Could we cancel the SQF certification and go with BRC? please let me know if this is possible, they want to save money and not pay the surveillance audit and start "fresh" with a BRC cert. I just got hired with this company because of the fail. 

 

Hi Migi,

 

I'm not particularly familiar with the SQF audit  "Process" which appears to me to be substantially different to that of BRC,  albeit both Standards are recognized by GFSI. The differences in the 2 Standards are IMO also not insignificant.

 

Regardless, since you are paying "X" for the opportunity to have yr facility audited, I would have thought the basic answer to yr query is yes. Welcome to be corrected if anyone knows more.

 

As already noted, a key question is probably  why do you want to change ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 02:47 PM

I wouldn't think GFSI would allow you to audit to a different scheme because you failed an audit. A BRC certification is equal to an SQF certification and it would be apparent that the reason was the failure of an audit. I'd think BRC would have to start you on surveillance also and would further think the BRC may reject the application to their scheme knowing this. The database would immediately show the failed audit. Not a judgement or pointed finger but, your system should be audit ready at all times or at least close enough that you would only get a few minors at most. Sorry to hear about your troubles. Like Gerard H. stated, maybe they just don't like their CB and it's time to find another, but changing schemes seem drastic and unnecessary. The surveillance audit may be just what the company needs to avoid further issues? Just MHO.



pHruit

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 03:55 PM

I wouldn't think GFSI would allow you to audit to a different scheme because you failed an audit.

I don't think the GFSI body maintains this level of direct oversight on individual certification audits?

In the general case I don't think it is as clear-cut as it first appears - for example, we've never done SQF so I don't think our site would fair especially well if an unannounced SQF audit arrived tomorrow morning. If we failed this, should we not be able to claim certification to a GFSI standard, despite holding BRC at AA grade?

The BRC audit standard does ask about other certification held, but only as part of general reference information unless it's related to a product claim such as organic, Fairtrade etc where maintaining certification is an inherent part of the claim.

Similarly, I'm not sure one certification scheme can share this type of data about a client with other schemes without first getting permission from the client themselves, but aside from that I doubt there is any mechanism in place for it to happen. I know this is something that the UK has been looking at recently following some issues at meat processing sites, and regulators grumbling that information sharing is too limited, so we may see it one day...

 

The picture would possibly be different if moving between two different CBs for the same scheme, but even then the re-audit dates tend to be a maximum - having moved our BRC Agents & Brokers forward this year to better fit around seasonal peaks in manufacturing activity elsewhere in the business, the only thing that our CB flagged was that we'd be "losing" some of the 12 months of the certification we'd previously paid to achieve.

Consider an example where a site goes through it's first BRC audit and gets a grade C, putting them on 6-month recertification. If the site makes lots of improvements and wants to pay to be audited sooner, there is no reason why this shouldn't be allowed. In principle it's not that different when moving between schemes - given that they're all benchmarked, a failed SQF would theoretically equate to a poor BRC grade unless the site makes significant improvement. Thus, they're either still at a similar level and wasting money on an audit that'll achieve broadly similar findings, or improvements have been made and they genuinely merit certification.

 

I think Charles is correct that you can certainly do this if you want, but in the OP's position I'd be considering why they want to change to BRC, and whether this is the magic solution that some parts of senior management possibly imagine it is.



CMHeywood

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 04:22 PM

As mentioned above, you don't want to be in a situation where you have no certification.

 

I work for a company that produces food contact packaging.  We have one plant that was SQF certified but has a large, global customer that is demanding that they become BRC certified.  The plant let their SQF certification expire on 12/11/2018 based on the BRC certifying body originally saying they could audit in November.  The certifying body has now said they can't do the BRC audit until March.  So we have to explain to customers why this plant does not have 3rd party food safety certification.

 

I agree with the above that you will need to correct your nonconformances even if you go BRC.  I assume if you can correct them and have them be accepted within 30 days after the audit, you would get some sort of temporary approval from SQF for the 6 months prior to the surveillance audit.  This will give you more time to decide if you want to stay with SQF or go with BRC. 

 

You definitely need to find out how long it will take before you can have a BRC audit.



Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 04:28 PM

GFSI, and everyone else, can tell immediately if a site fails an audit, it's "Certified Sites" and "Withdrawn Certifications" databases are continuously updated and listed on the SQF website. I also pretty sure that a CB would have to report any failures or withdrawals to the GFSI as a requirement from GFSI to qualify as a CB. So the information about the site and certification standing is public information and rightly so, there would be no point to being certified if no one could easily verify it. Also, there is a difference between your initial certification and your re-certification. Re-certification means you have already been compliant and therefore understand your responsibilities, failing an audit means the system that you have in place and has been certified has broken down and you should be placed on surveillance for a time to assure it doesn't happen again. There would be no issue moving to a new CB but if you had your cert pulled, they wouldn't be able to re-certify you until the proper time and / or actions had been completed.



Hoosiersmoker

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 04:31 PM

A failed audit does not automatically mean a withdrawn certificate. Surveillance audit allows you to correct issues and be audited to in 6 months to verify the corrections are having the desired effect. Failure to correct would result in a withdrawn certificate.



CMHeywood

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:16 PM

I agree - a failed audit does not automatically mean a withdrawn certificate.  For the company I work for, we did have a plant that did not pass their SQF audit and were scheduled for a surveillance audit 6 months later.  Due to misunderstanding, they did not submit corrective actions for review and approval, and thus lost their SQF certification.



Harminnie

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:43 PM

Yes it is possible to change. I am a very small company and BRC works works well for us. When researching schemes we didn't like all the different levels, etc. of SQF, although it works well for many companies.  In the end they are pretty similar. If you want to change-change. If you decide to stay then maybe think about changing your certifiying company and make sure they do not send your previous auditor, because some auditors contract for numerous companies. Regardless what anyone says, there is a difference in auditors. For example, after 7 years of A/AA I got a C. I changed companies, made sure not to get the same auditor and I'm back to an A.  As everyone before me has said, fix whatever the NC were. I'm not sure what your previous grades were so I hope this is some food for thought.



Harminnie

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:47 PM

I forgot to add that unannounced audits are still optional for BRC



john.kukoly

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 05:54 PM

Just for clarity, from a "program owners" perspective, on communications. GFSI is the benchmarking organization - they have a process that determines if a program (previously called "scheme") meets their requirements or not. This does include some requirement about frequency of audits, and what each individual program owner needs to include in their process.

 

GFSI does not collect any information specific to certified sites, nor do they have any list of certified sites - the individual program owners have that for their own programs - some are public some are not.

 

There are also expectations around when a certificate expires, and must be withdrawn, although each program tends to have a clear set of expectations that the CB has to follow.

 

In general, the site owns the audit report, but based on the accreditation process, the certification body owns the certificate and certification - they would have to follow both their accreditation rules and the rules of the specific GFSI benchmarked program.

 

 

John



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Charles.C

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:28 AM

Just for clarity, from a "program owners" perspective, on communications. GFSI is the benchmarking organization - they have a process that determines if a program (previously called "scheme") meets their requirements or not. This does include some requirement about frequency of audits, and what each individual program owner needs to include in their process.

 

GFSI does not collect any information specific to certified sites, nor do they have any list of certified sites - the individual program owners have that for their own programs - some are public some are not.

 

There are also expectations around when a certificate expires, and must be withdrawn, although each program tends to have a clear set of expectations that the CB has to follow.

 

In general, the site owns the audit report, but based on the accreditation process, the certification body owns the certificate and certification - they would have to follow both their accreditation rules and the rules of the specific GFSI benchmarked program.

 

 

John

 

Many people seem to be unaware of GFSI's actual involvement in Food Certification. And of the considerable differences between audit routines for different, but GFSI-(equally) recognized, Food Standards.

 

An intention behind GFSI's involvement was to enable a reduction in audits via harmonization. As threads on this Forum illustrate, Customers may not necessarily share this objective.

 

A facility could presumably be certified to as many GFSI-recognized FS Standards as it wished to be audited for.

 

What is "GFSI Certification"?

The term "GFSI Certification" is often used in reference to certification to a GFSI-recognised certification programme.

GFSI is not a Certification Programme in itself, neither does it carry out any accreditation or certification activities. Learn more about GFSI & Certification.

 

What are GFSI-recognised Certification Programmes?

Over the past 16 years, GFSI-recognised schemes – now GFSI-recognised certification programmes - have become globally established and widely required in global supply chains. Seen as a stamp of approval and a signal of strong food safety standards, certification to a GFSI-recognised certification programme has come to be required by many buying companies as a prerequisite to doing business.

The CPOs set food safety standards and develop requirements for management systems while orchestrating the certification of food operations. By undergoing benchmarking with GFSI and achieving GFSI recognition, CPOs signal a strong commitment to raising the bar across the global food supply while driving harmonisation for the successful production and trade of safe food around the world. Consult and contact GFSI-recognised CPOs.

(CPO = Certified Program Owner)

 

What are Certification Bodies?

The third party companies that provide certification services are known as Certification Bodies (CBs). They are key stakeholders to GFSI and active participants, both in the professional network as well as in the GFSI Technical Working Groups. The Certification Bodies are authorised to audit against recognised CPOs through a formal agreement with the certification programme owner (CPO) combined with the scope of their accreditation.

 

What are Accreditation Bodies?

Accreditation Bodies (ABs) are not-for-profit organisations, either government owned or under agreement with government, charged with ensuring that participating Certification Bodies in the country are subject to oversight by an authoritative body. Accreditation Bodies may not be high profile in each country but they play a key role in the accredited certification process and ensuring international consistency in conformity assessment.

 

https://www.mygfsi.c...n/overview.html


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Charles.C

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:55 AM

Hi Migi_chu,

 

Any further information possible ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:47 AM

Simple answer - yes you can switch to BRC, but while both are GFSI, they are not the same.

 

You will be without "certification" during the period of change over - need to decide if you can weather that with your customers.

 

I don't however think your upper management/owners are thinking clearly on this situation however, if it is ONLY a money issue what makes them think that the preparation run up and first BRC audit is cheaper than doing the needed work and getting your surveilance audit out of the way and back into the good graces of SQF?

 

Considering that BRC is a bit more complex than SQF, if you failed an SQF audit what makes them think they won't fail their first BRC audit?

 

If it were me, I'd get going on the corrective actions/improvements you need to make to ace your surveilance audit.


Kind regards,
Glenn Oster
 
GOC BUSINESS GROUP | SQF System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants
Internal Auditor Training - eConsultant - Pre & Post SQF-GAP Audits - Consultant Training
Visit us @ http://www.GlennOster.com  or call us @ 772.646.4115 US-EST 8am-4pm Anyday except Thursday
 
 

Scampi

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:32 PM

I second Glenn

 

When i started with my current employer, they were in surveillance and it only cost my time and some caulking to get them out. The previous SQFP had written the program so they were doomed to fail (overwritten and complex due to a lack of experience)

I do think it sounds like the company is generally not on board with food safety and is only certified to satisfy the customer (which is a valid reason, just perhaps not the best one)

 

Do you mind list the basic non conformance? That would help us to see where the real issue lays


Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


Charles.C

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:42 PM

I second Glenn

 

When i started with my current employer, they were in surveillance and it only cost my time and some caulking to get them out. The previous SQFP had written the program so they were doomed to fail (overwritten and complex due to a lack of experience)

I do think it sounds like the company is generally not on board with food safety and is only certified to satisfy the customer (which is a valid reason, just perhaps not the best one)

 

Do you mind list the basic non conformance? That would help us to see where the real issue lays

 

see Post 2, 4, 15

 

Maybe "coming soon".


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 18 January 2019 - 05:42 PM

Good morning,

 

I think that the first step before dropping a certification body is to ask the Owners if they can have a Management commitment, the failure of an audit is not just because one person didn't do his/hers job it's a group effort starting from the top of the organization if they cannot do that then no matter what certification body you use its not going to work. 






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