BRCGS Certification : Brand Reputation through Compliance of Global Standards

The importance of food security is crucial for agri-food stakeholders. International standards, such as BRCGS certification, ensure quality and compliance. Discover its advantages, sectors concerned and methods of obtaining.

What is the BRCGS certification ?

Known by the acronym BRCGS, for Brand Reputation through Compliance of Global Standards, this certification plays an essential role in strengthening food safety worldwide. Endorsed by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), it targets a wide range of actors : from manufacturers to distributors, processors, packagers, and even product agents and brokers, whether they are food or not. Its main objective is to ensure optimal consumer protection and ensure strict compliance with standards in terms of safety, integrity, legality and quality of products.

At the heart of the BRCGS certification are the key principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. This proactive approach helps identify, assess and control food security risks. But it goes further by integrating crucial aspects such as food safety culture, food fraud prevention, effective allergen management, supplier control, staff training, traceability and product recall, incident management and effective communication with all stakeholders.

The issuance of BRCGS certification is based on regular audits, conducted at least once a year by accredited certification bodies, depending on the performance and level of compliance of the company. Valid for 12 months, this certification implies continuous compliance with established standards. It gives the company an international stature, strengthens the trust of customers and distributors, stimulates the constant improvement of its operations and products, while minimizing the risks and costs associated with any non-conformities.

How many BRCGS certifications are there ? What are they ?

BRCGS certifications are essential for various sectors, including the production, processing, packaging, distribution, and sale of food and non-food products. Currently, six separate BRCGS certifications are available, each targeting specific needs depending on the industry.

Food

This certification is the most famous and widely adopted among food manufacturers and processors, whether fresh, frozen, dry, liquid or preserved. It certifies the safety, integrity, regulatory compliance and quality of food products while ensuring the proper management of food safety risks.

Packaging

Intended for manufacturers and suppliers of packaging materials for food and non-food products, this certification ensures compliance of packaging with legal, regulatory and contractual criteria, in addition to protecting products from all forms of physical, chemical and biological contamination.

Consumer products

Aimed at manufacturers and suppliers of non-food consumer goods, such as hygiene products, cosmetics, textiles, toys, stationery, and electrical products, this certification advocates safety, compliance, quality of goods and customer satisfaction.

Storage and Distribution

Suitable for companies managing the storage, transport, distribution, brokerage and import of both food and non-food products, this certification assesses compliance with best practices in storage and distribution, ensuring traceability and effective incident management.

GMO-free products

The BRCGS voluntary certification for Non-GMO Products ensures that both food and non-food products are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or any products derived from them. This certification is based on rigorous DNA testing and thorough supply chain audits.

Agents and brokers

The BRCGS certification for Agents and Brokers concerns companies that operate in the purchase, sale or facilitation of trade in food and non-food products, without however taking part in their production, storage, or distribution. This certification confirms that these companies maintain high standards of safety, quality and legal compliance of the products they distribute.

What are the accredited BRCGS certification bodies ?

To obtain a BRCGS certification, you must turn to an accredited certification body capable of conducting audits in accordance with the criteria of the chosen reference. These bodies are certified by national accreditation bodies, attesting to their technical competence and impartiality. In turn, these entities are audited by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), ensuring the overall consistency of certification systems.

There are currently more than 100 accredited BRCGS certification bodies around the world, offering their services in various sectors related to this certification. To find the one that best suits your needs, you can consult the complete list on the BRCGS website or search by country, sector or specific standard.

Some of these organizations stand out for their excellent performance, quality of customer service and extensive expertise. For example, Bureau Veritas was named Certification Body of the Year by BRCGS in 2022, with one of its auditors being awarded as Auditor of the Year in 2021. Bureau Veritas is a global leader in inspection, testing and certification services, employing more than 80,000 people and operating in more than 1,600 offices and laboratories around the globe.

They guide you through each step of the BRCGS certification, from defining the scope to the annual recertification audit.

What are the specific BRCGS certification requirements for my industry ?

The BRCGS certification is designed to meet the specific needs of each sector by considering the characteristics, risks and expectations of the products. For each domain, there is a detailed repository that specifies the criteria that companies must meet to ensure the safety, quality and compliance of their offers. Learn about the specific BRCGS certification requirements for different industries :

Food

Criteria for BRCGS certification in the food sector include :

  • Management’s commitment to a food safety culture
  • Implementation of a documented and operational quality management system
  • Application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) according to Codex Alimentarius
  • Monitoring of the production environment
  • Core programs such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hygiene (GMP)
  • Prevention measures against food fraud and crisis management
  • Control of allergens and undesirable substances
  • Management of suppliers and raw materials
  • Traceability and recall of products
  • Staff training and awareness
  • Communication inside and outside the company

Packaging

Requirements for BRCGS certification in the packaging industry include :

  • Management’s commitment to a product safety culture
  • A well documented and effective quality management system
  • A HACCP approach for risk analysis and critical control points, based on the Codex Alimentarius
  • Prerequisite programs covering Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Laboratory Practices (GLP)
  • Fraud prevention and crisis management
  • Thorough management of suppliers and raw materials
  • Traceability and the product recall process
  • Employee training and awareness
  • Effective internal and external communication

Consumer products

The principles guiding the BRCGS certification for consumer products are :

  • Strong management involvement in a product safety culture
  • A well-established and efficient quality management system
  • The use of the HACCP approach for hazard identification and critical control points, in accordance with Codex Alimentarius
  • Compliance with good manufacturing (GMP) and laboratory (GLP) practices through specific programs
  • Preventive measures against fraud and a robust incident management system
  • Rigorous management of suppliers and raw materials
  • A traceability and product recall system
  • Development of team training and awareness
  • Maintaining fluid communication both inside and outside the organization

Storage and Distribution

For the storage and distribution sector, the specific requirements of the BRCGS certification are :

  • Strong management commitment to promote a product safety culture
  • Implementation of a documented and effective quality management system
  • The adoption of the HACCP approach for risk analysis and critical control points, inspired by the Codex Alimentarius
  • Application of specific good storage and distribution practices
  • Fraud prevention and a successful incident manager
  • Thorough management of suppliers and subcontractors
  • Development of a traceability and product recall system
  • Focus on staff training and awareness
  • A constant effort of internal and external communication

GMO-free products

The BRCGS "Non-GMO Products" certification is based on several key principles :

  • Management commitment to product safety.
  • A documented and efficient quality management system.
  • Risk analysis and control of critical points (HACCP), in accordance with Codex Alimentarius.
  • Prerequisite programs, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP).
  • Fraud prevention and proactive incident management.
  • Rigorous management of suppliers and raw materials.
  • Traceability and product recall procedure.
  • Extensive training and staff awareness.
  • Effective communication, both internal and external.
  • DNA analysis and supply chain audits for quality assurance.

Agents and brokers

BRCGS certification for Agents and Brokers is based on the following principles :

  • A strong commitment from management to securing products.
  • Well structured and documented quality management system.
  • Detailed risk analysis and critical points management (HACCP), based on the Codex Alimentarius.
  • Prerequisite programs including Good Business Practices (GCP).
  • Fraud prevention and rapid response to incidents.
  • Effective management of supplier and customer relationships.
  • Exemplary traceability and product recall mechanisms.
  • Ongoing training and awareness for staff.
  • Smooth and transparent internal and external communication.

What are the steps to obtain a BRCGS certification ?

Obtaining a BRCGS certification requires careful preparation and constant attention from the company. The following are the key steps to success :

1. Define the scope of certification

Start by determining the scope of your certification, including the sector of activity, the site, the product, and the target repository. Then select an accredited BRCGS certification body. To find this organization, browse the list available on the BRCGS website, or search by country, sector or standard.

2. Make an internal diagnosis

The next step is the internal diagnosis. This is to assess how well your company meets the criteria of the selected repository. This diagnosis can be conducted by yourself or by an external consultant and leads to the identification of strengths, weaknesses, gaps and corrective measures required.

3. Set up the quality management system

It is then necessary to establish your quality management system. This system includes all documentation, procedures, recordings, prerequisite programs, risk analysis, staff training, and communication channels. The system must be adapted to your industry, your products, and the standard applied, in addition to being regularly monitored and improved.

4. Perform a pre-audit (optional)

Finally, a pre-audit, although optional, is recommended by some certification bodies. It is used to assess the company’s actual preparation for the certification audit and to identify and correct any non-compliance or deviation before the official audit.

5. Perform the certification audit

The fifth step is crucial: the completion of the certification audit. This detailed procedure is conducted by a competent auditor of the selected certification body. The audit consists of several key elements: an in-depth analysis of the documents, a thorough visit of the premises, discussions with staff members, as well as direct observations and specific samples.

The auditor’s mission is to assess various aspects such as compliance with the standards set by the standard, the effectiveness of risk control, the performance of the quality management system, and the commitment to product safety. Following this review, the auditor compiles his findings in an audit report. This document highlights strengths, areas for improvement, discrepancies, and any non-conformities identified.

6. Obtain the certificate

The sixth and final step leads to obtaining the certificate, an official document issued by the certification body. This formality is based on the evaluation of the audit report and the verification of the corrective measures applied by the company to respond to the audit findings. The certificate mentions vital information: the name of the certified company, the certification domain, the reference reference, the due date and the level of performance evaluated. This certificate is valid for one year, provided that the company continues to meet the criteria of the repository.

How much does a BRCGS certification cost ?

The price to obtain a BRCGS certification is not fixed and varies according to several aspects, including the sector of activity, the specific reference framework, the scope of the certification, the number of sites involved, the time required for the audit, and the selected certification body. Despite the lack of standard pricing, there are a few key elements that can help assess the cost :

  • Cost of the reference : Corresponds to the amount to be paid to acquire the document setting the criteria of the BRCGS certification according to the field of activity. This cost fluctuates by sector and version of the repository, ranging from €140 to €455. A locked version of the repository is also available free of charge on the official BRCGS website.
  • Internal diagnostic cost : Represents the price for a preliminary assessment of the company’s compliance with the required standards. This analysis can be done internally or by an external consultant, and its cost depends on the time invested, the number of sites to be examined and the complexity of the processes in place.
  • Pre-audit cost : Price for an optional assessment to determine the company’s level of readiness prior to the main audit. This service, invoiced by the certification body, varies according to the duration of the pre-audit, the number of sites and the complexity of the processes.
  • Certification Audit Cost : Rate for the final audit that confirms the company’s compliance with requirements. This cost, determined by the certification body, takes into account the time required, the number of sites, the complexity of the processes and the level of performance.
  • Certificate Cost : Le montant pour la délivrance du certificat BRCGS de l’entreprise. Ce coût, facturé par l’organisme de certification, dépend du secteur, du cadre de référence, de l’étendue de la certification et du niveau de performance.

While the total cost of obtaining BRCGS certification can vary considerably from company to company, this investment can be very beneficial. It provides international recognition, builds trust with customers and distributors, promotes continuous improvement of processes and products, and helps reduce the risks and costs associated with non-compliance.

How long does it take to get a BRCGS certification ?

The time required to obtain a BRCGS certification varies according to several criteria, including the sector of activity, the reference system, the scope of certification, the level of maturity of the company, and the choice of the certification body. While there is no set timeframe, here is an estimate based on several key elements :

Duration of internal diagnosis : This period is devoted to assessing the compliance of the company with the requirements of the reference system. Depending on the size and complexity of the business, it can take from a few days to several weeks.

Implementation of the quality management system : This time required to implement, control and improve the system varies according to the sector, the product and the reference system of the company, and can range from a few weeks to a few months.

Pre-audit (optional) : This process is intended to verify the company’s readiness prior to the certification audit. Depending on the number of sites and the complexity of the processes, its duration can vary from a few hours to a few days.

Certification audit : This time is dedicated to validate the company’s compliance with the requirements of the reference system. Depending on various factors such as the number of sites and the complexity of the processes, this audit can last from a few hours to a few days.

Obtaining the certificate : The time required to verify the audit report and the corrective actions implemented by the company may vary depending on the sector, the reference frame and other factors, requiring from a few days to a few weeks.

The total time to acquire BRCGS certification can vary greatly from case to case. Nevertheless, this investment can prove to be very advantageous for the company, providing it with international recognition, enhanced trust from customers and distributors, continuous improvement of its processes and products, and reduced risks and costs associated with non-compliance.

Is there a renewal required for BRCGS certifications ?

BRCGS certification is never acquired once and for all. It requires constant attention and commitment to stay aligned with quality and safety standards. This means that to continue to meet the evolving requirements of quality, product safety and performance, companies must renew their certification regularly.

This process allows the company to continuously demonstrate its commitment to high standards and remain competitive in the market. The path to renewal begins with a recertification audit.

This audit, conducted by the chosen certification body, applies the same evaluation criteria as the initial audit that led to the certification. It is crucial to verify continuous compliance with the rules, the implementation of necessary corrective actions and the improvement of processes and products. The result of this audit is a new report that highlights the company’s current performance, as well as any deviations or non-compliance.

As for the frequency of renewal, it is directly related to the performance of the company, evaluated on a scale from A+ to D. A high performance, rated A+, implies a renewal every 18 months. At the other end, a level D requires a semi-annual renewal. It is important to start the renewal process before the current certificate expires, to avoid losing its validity.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

1

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

2

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

3

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