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#1 pHruit

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 01:54 PM

Hi All,
I'm aware that there are a couple of separate threads already running on the BRC and IFS position on remote audits at present, but this one seemed more general and will potentially affect everyone that is assessing suppliers based on GFSI-benchmarked certification as well as those being audited.

GFSI have published this today, and are stating that remote/desktop/virtual audits will not be considered as recognised: https://mygfsi.com/n...vid-19-pandemic



#2 minsalaco

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 02:13 PM

I am currently affected by this, as our BRC receritfication audit is scheduled for next week.   Our CB told us yesterday we have the option of a remote audit, but it appears there's a miscommunication if GFSI is stating otherwise.



#3 pHruit

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 02:18 PM

No, you can still go ahead with the remote audit - that's at BRC's instruction. The announcement from GFSI just means that the certificate that BRC issue to you for the audit will not be recognised within GFSI's benchmarking.

In normal circumstances that could be problematic, and even now it's still something of a pain, but the reality is that there will be significant numbers of food businesses in the same position, such that it should hopefully force a relatively pragmatic approach and a degree of understanding within the industry ;)



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#4 minsalaco

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 05:17 PM

Thank you.  It seems our options are to either proceed with the remote audit, or let the certification lapse.   We are proceeding with the remote audit.



#5 SQFconsultant

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 06:00 PM

I am currently affected by this, as our BRC receritfication audit is scheduled for next week.   Our CB told us yesterday we have the option of a remote audit, but it appears there's a miscommunication if GFSI is stating otherwise.

 

As GFSI stated there are some that are not in alignment with them. This apparently includes your CB.

 

I would ask for an in-person audit, just like always and see what happens.

 

There is no reason why Auditors should not be conducting audits.

 

GFSI knows there is no replacment for an auditor to walk thru a facility - as consultants we can do remote audits easily, but as a former SQF Auditor I know there is a substantial difference.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC, IFS & GFCP System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Business Operational Consultants to the food industry - Trouble-shooting and Turn-Around

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#6 minsalaco

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Posted 24 March 2020 - 06:12 PM

So it appears we will be having a remote audit, which is 50% of the total duration.  The remaining time will be conducted via onsite GMP audit within 6 months.

 

I agree that there's no substitute for an actual walkthrough, and they will do so within the 6 month timeframe.   CB confirmed our certificate will not lapse in the meantime.



#7 QALab1438

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 03:09 PM

GFSI said "Certificates may now be extended once only for up to six months following a risk assessment. The approach to risk assessment taken must be approved by GFSI in advance of any certificate extensions taking place." 

 

Has anyone done the risk assessment to get an extension. 

 

We have our audit scheduled for April. I don't want to go through a remote audit and for it not to be valid by GFSI and have to go through the whole audit again... 



#8 pHruit

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 03:20 PM

We have our audit scheduled for April. I don't want to go through a remote audit and for it not to be valid by GFSI and have to go through the whole audit again... 

I think the pragmatic consideration in this situation is: what is the purpose of the GFSI benchmarking?

In a practical sense I'd see this as a way for us, and the bodies that author the standards to which we're certified, to recognise the equivalence of each others' schemes.

Having a "non-GFSI" BRC extended by remote audit is therefore only likely to be a problem for your customers' approval of you if they have been lost in the Andromeda galaxy for the last three months, and are thus unaware of the effect that coronavirus has had on global trade, manufacturing and supply chains.
Consider the equivalent where you are the customer: if your supplier approaches you with their new BRC certificate and it's a 6-month extension via remote audit, are you going to then insist on a full site audit, or take the more reasonable view that the site was obviously certified previously via full audit, has passed the remote audit, and will be subject to the remaining parts of the real BRC before issue of a full certificate once the current situation has settled down?
I know which view I'll be telling my team to take with our suppliers, and the view that I'll be espousing to our customers if they raise any awkward questions ;)



#9 QALab1438

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 03:42 PM

BRCGS just put out a statement - so I think they're looking into this:

 

https://www.brcgs.co...be-issued-soon/

LATEST: BRCGS AUDITS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS

Due to restrictions in movement within some regions imposed by governments and site biosecurity measures taking effect as a result of the coronavirus, some BRCGS audits may have to be managed in a different way in the short term.

BRCGS is consulting with stakeholders and will issue new revised guidance as soon as possible.  



#10 LesleySR

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 03:51 PM

Interesting thread.

 

I attended lead assessor training at a certification body last week & all the staff there were struggling with this - their proposal to proceed with remote audits only for the present was reached on Friday after very lengthy deliberation.

 

I think pHfuit has it right (above) & I understand this is the way my employer is heading - the only concern I might have is how we would deal with a new supplier of a high risk ingredient who hasn't achieved a great grade in previous 3rd party audits.



#11 Ryan M.

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 09:03 PM

GFSI allows up to a 6 month extension with a risk assessment which they approve.  If you can't get an auditor onsite I would suggest following this.  You'll have to contact your CB first and remind them what GFSI put out and what you want to do.

 

Of course, if you have any key customers that require your GFSI certification to remain fully intact you will have to contact them as well to not jeopardize any sales.



#12 GMO

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 09:29 PM

I think BRC are out on a limb with this.  We tried to use those smart glass things today to show some of the factory to people and it was painful.  There is no way you could do any of an audit that way. 

 

To be honest BRC and the CB responses have done them no favours.  It has been vague, contradictory and blatantly out there to protect trade.  I'm not sure about anyone else but I'm on the factory floor helping the f*** out every day.  No way am I trawling through my procedures ready for BRC.  They can b*gger off.  At this rate I'm tempted to go back into operations. 



#13 SQFconsultant

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 10:27 PM

GMO - what is smart glass (I know it as a pane of glass that can be changed to different colors, but I think you mean something else) ?


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC, IFS & GFCP System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Business Operational Consultants to the food industry - Trouble-shooting and Turn-Around

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http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

GOT ANY SPARE BITCOIN???

https://glennosterco...-digital-dollar

 

 

 


#14 pHruit

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 11:43 AM

GMO - what is smart glass (I know it as a pane of glass that can be changed to different colors, but I think you mean something else) ?

This type of thing, with a camera embedded into the frame - https://en.wikipedia...ki/Smartglasses

 

Further update from BRC seems to be an about-turn on the "remote audits" element:

https://www.brcgs.co...ed-by-covid-19/



#15 QALab1438

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 01:54 PM

Further update from BRC seems to be an about-turn on the "remote audits" element:

https://www.brcgs.co...ed-by-covid-19/

(From the link from pHruit)

 

"In order to reduce stress on sites at this difficult time we have decided to remove the self-assessment and remote audit element from the certificate extension process.  BRCGS will now allow the extension of certificate dates of sites currently operating to one of our standards up to a period of 6 months. This would only apply to suppliers that currently have restricted onsite access. In line with GFSI, this extension will be based on a risk assessment by the site’s current certification body and will be validated and verified through the exchange of relevant documents and an interview process (see brcgs.com for full details). Once the site becomes accessible, the full onsite audit will take place as normal and a new certificate will be issued for a further 12 months."

 

Definitively less stress to trying to figure out a remote audit! 



#16 AndyDiff

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 02:22 PM

This is the full statement from BRC. It looks as if they are now also asking for the response and impacts arising from Covid-19.

Attached Files



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#17 sinnae404

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 09:16 PM

A very curious position from GFSI.  It's OK to postpone an audit for up to 6 months?

That seems pretty irresponsible to me, I would think a remote audit is better than no audit at all.

 

Where will GFSI stand when there's a major food safety issue in this 6-month period?



#18 LesleySR

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 04:15 PM

Just listened to Cert-ID webinar on this & there are some useful resources on their site: 

 

https://www.foodchai...-updates-brcgs/

 

 

If you can listen to the webinar there is a lot of information on packaging & environmental cleaning - which may be of use to some folks.



#19 Vladimir Surcinski

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 02:32 PM

Really interesting is position of GFSI in this crisis times. As an auditor I am tracking the situation from hour to hour, and must say that i am confused. Just yesterday we had one remote audit finished for FSSC 22000, and the same day in the evening FSSC 22000 issued notification that CBs will not perform remote audits just only "risk analysis" to complete with the company. 

As i understand this is similar to what BRCGS promoting and that is 4 hour interview with the company. Why? Because "interview" and "risk analysis" are asking for the same stuff.

So were we are now?! This made confused the clients, the CBs, the auditors...

 

What is really finger in my eye,is this sentence, that every certification scheme is mentioning - retail and customers will understand the situation of crisis because they are all in the same shituation.

 

And this makes me wonder, so in the time of crisis other rules applies for food safety, meaning producers can do what ever, important is to deliver to market. 

I really can not agree ladies and gentleman on this...At least remote audits for half of total audit hours is a good thing to keep companies vigilant and ready. I am not saying that companies are not serious, but there are some of them feeling ''food safety relaxed'' at this time. 

Also, i am feeling that GFSI and certification schemes are not confident in the CBs and auditor performance, there is no built trust and GFSI decided to stop remotes as the result.  

 

It makes me wonder even deeper - Why GFSI is not trusting the on line performance of remotes that includes document checking in the time of digital industrial revolution, industrial revolution 4.0?

 

All of this will pass, but nice to see that this pandemic makes people and organisation show their real faces. Maybe we will have additional announcement in 5 days, all is possible as we have seen in previous few weeks.

 

Take care all of you and keep our food safe regardless of the situation ! 



#20 GMO

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 09:28 AM

The stupidity of this all is that in 6 months time, if this is all better, what does everyone then do?  Squeeze in a year's worth of audits into 6 months?  For starters, how is that possible?  Secondly, I'm not sure about anyone else but I'm not spending hours prepping for BRC and audits.  I'm doing what needs to be done on the factory floor.  Think about the quality teams who will have to deal with the workload after working their butts off for months beforehand trying to keep going.

 

Thanks a bunch!



#21 ft.tgif

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 12:41 PM

Really interesting is position of GFSI in this crisis times. As an auditor I am tracking the situation from hour to hour, and must say that i am confused. Just yesterday we had one remote audit finished for FSSC 22000, and the same day in the evening FSSC 22000 issued notification that CBs will not perform remote audits just only "risk analysis" to complete with the company. 

As i understand this is similar to what BRCGS promoting and that is 4 hour interview with the company. Why? Because "interview" and "risk analysis" are asking for the same stuff.

So were we are now?! This made confused the clients, the CBs, the auditors...

 

What is really finger in my eye,is this sentence, that every certification scheme is mentioning - retail and customers will understand the situation of crisis because they are all in the same shituation.

 

And this makes me wonder, so in the time of crisis other rules applies for food safety, meaning producers can do what ever, important is to deliver to market. 

I really can not agree ladies and gentleman on this...At least remote audits for half of total audit hours is a good thing to keep companies vigilant and ready. I am not saying that companies are not serious, but there are some of them feeling ''food safety relaxed'' at this time. 

Also, i am feeling that GFSI and certification schemes are not confident in the CBs and auditor performance, there is no built trust and GFSI decided to stop remotes as the result.  

 

It makes me wonder even deeper - Why GFSI is not trusting the on line performance of remotes that includes document checking in the time of digital industrial revolution, industrial revolution 4.0?

 

All of this will pass, but nice to see that this pandemic makes people and organisation show their real faces. Maybe we will have additional announcement in 5 days, all is possible as we have seen in previous few weeks.

 

Take care all of you and keep our food safe regardless of the situation ! 

I just spoke to our company's FSSC 22000 consultant from BSI, he told us that remote audits were allowed. This is kinda confusing for me too, would love to hear if there are any updates on this from GFSI whether if remote audits will be recognized. 



#22 pHruit

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 12:50 PM

I just spoke to our company's FSSC 22000 consultant from BSI, he told us that remote audits were allowed. This is kinda confusing for me too, would love to hear if there are any updates on this from GFSI whether if remote audits will be recognized. 

Your certification body's position doesn't necessarily need to align with GFSI - they could theoretically do "more", as long as they're also meeting the requirements identified in the GFSI position statement.

Nonetheless it appears that FSSC22000 as the scheme owner has adopted the GFSI position, and will be requirement that certification bodies use a "detailed risk assessment", so broadly similar to BRC (unsurprisingly).

Latest from FSSC22000 themselves is here: https://www.fssc2200...id-19-pandemic/

If you are due your audit soon then I'd speak directly to your certification body to understand what their plans are and how they are going to approach this.



#23 Ryan M.

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 03:07 PM

My boss is looking into the potential of a remote audit or if the audit will be postponed; we are SQF.  I wouldn't say food companies are relaxing their food safety or quality standards.  Rather, they are less prioritized than getting product out the door and onto the shelf.  We still stress safety and quality in production, but it will be a challenge once people can't come to work.  VP of Ops is screaming in everyone's' ear to get product out the door, while HR is stressing the need to monitor employee health, and I have my quality people calling me that they can't shut down the equipment to clean it because operations says they have to keep running.  So, lots of different things pulling people in all different ways.

 

Our company is preparing for the worst with this pandemic.  We have a COVID-19 task force and have put SOP's together for monitoring our employees, sanitizing touch surfaces every hour, and how to handle employees who show symptoms or have tested positive.  We are even training office personnel to run equipment in the plant if people can't come to work.  We are in a tough position because we can't make enough product and we don't have a lot of extra people to help fill in.  If someone on my QA team tests positive we are screwed because there are only a few of us and we interact with one another daily, as well as, go throughout the facility in all areas.

 

Luckily no one has tested positive in our facility, but it will be interesting when it does happen because we have a lot of crossover on our shifts between departments in operations.  



#24 GMO

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 08:53 AM

 

There is no reason why Auditors should not be conducting audits.

 

 

Are you kidding???



#25 GMO

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 08:54 AM

I have my quality people calling me that they can't shut down the equipment to clean it because operations says they have to keep running.  So, lots of different things pulling people in all different ways.

  

 

Remind your company that nobody would thank you for a public recall right now.  Seriously the commercial impact would be massive.



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