The Facts About BRC Version7
About the Author:
Neil Giles – Marketing Communications Manager
Neil Giles is Marketing Communications Manager at the Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection Division of Mettler-Toledo, based in the UK. He currently specialises across all four main product inspection technologies, which are x-ray, metal detection, vision inspection, and checkweighing. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has over 20 years of experience in the food and pharmaceutical industries and has extensive knowledge of equipment for the packaging, process weighing and inspection sectors.
The Facts About BRC Version7
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards is one of the world’s principal food safety standards, used by over 22,000 suppliers in 123 countries supplying food products predominantly to English and Scandinavian retailers.
In January 2015, the BRC released Global Standards Version 7, a revision on its previous Version 6. In effect from July 2015, Version 7 focuses on the increased implementation of good manufacturing practices in areas where product recalls and withdrawals often arise, such as packaging and labelling management.
But where does it differ from Version 6?
Expanding the Scope
BRC Version 7 has been expanded compared with the previous standard to include packaging, in addition to the raw materials, themselves as key locations for the installation of product inspection technology. Clause 22.214.171.124 requires a documented procedure be implemented for the acceptance of raw materials, packaging and other components, such as product sampling, testing, and visual inspection.
Where packaging is outsourced to a third party, Version 7’s Clause 126.96.36.199 now requires a documented site audit that includes product safety, traceability, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) review, and good manufacturing practices (GMP) by an experienced safety auditor.
Detecting Foreign Bodies
Clause 188.8.131.52 in both Version 6 and 7 states that a HACCP audit on each food production line should be undertaken, which identifies the principal contaminant threats on the line, by investigating the raw ingredients, the manufacturing process, and packaging used. This can help food manufacturers select the most appropriate product inspection systems and place them where they will be most effective as designated Critical Control Points (CCP’s).
Just like in Version 6, Version 7 stipulates that production lines include a means of identifying contamination, such as a metal detector or x-ray inspection system, with the choice depending on the nature of the contaminant threat. For example, if the principal hazard is shards of metal, then a metal detector may be the most appropriate technology, but if it is from bone fragments, stone or glass, then an x-ray system will be more suitable. However, where Version 6 required that product inspection machines be situated at the end of the line, Version 7 allows manufacturers to place equipment throughout the line, as long as they "validate and justify" the location (Clause 184.108.40.206).
Both standards require manufacturers to segregate any contaminated products from the manufacturing process, through the use of an automatic rejection device and lockable reject bin. Version 7: Clause 220.127.116.11 goes further, recommending the technology be installed at every CCP so that brand owners can locate the source of contamination and take preventative action to minimise the risk of future incidents.
In Clause 5.2, the new standard now specifies that product labelling must comply with legal requirements and that the manufacturer identify and list any known allergenic materials handled on site, including raw ingredients, processing aids, intermediate and finished products, and any new product development ingredients. A list must be made available that includes products not containing allergens that require contamination protection (Version 7: Clause 5.3.2).
Version 7 Clause 6.2 also now requires manufacturers put in place formalised packaging and labelling controls so that only packaging for immediate use is available at packaging machines to ensure only correctly printed material is provided. Where vision equipment is used, manufacturers must ensure that the system is correctly set up and able to alert or reject products with incorrect labelling (Version 7: Clause 6.2.5).
Both versions of BRC Global Standards require food manufacturers to carry out maintenance and condition monitoring procedures to continuously examine the performance of each inspection machine. These can alert manufacturers to any issues with detection sensitivity, so they can be rectified before they become a problem.
Clause 18.104.22.168 has been updated in Version 7 to require mandatory metal detection equipment checks be implemented using test pieces selected on the basis of risk and appropriate materials (i.e. ferrous vs. non-ferrous metals). Checks must be made at typical operating speed and the correct timing of the rejection system that removes contaminants must be validated.
In both versions, Clause 22.214.171.124 requires that in the aftermath of a test failure, all products manufactured since the last successful test for re-inspection be isolated for checking. There should also be adequate reporting mechanisms in place to alert operators to any inspection problems and to demonstrate due diligence in the event of a product recall. Though unstated in the standards, these should be kept for as long as possible to protect against claims that may occur years after the product has left the factory floor.
Governments, retailers and consumers are increasingly aware of the issue of food safety, and updates to regulations, such as BRC Global Standards Version 7, are constantly going into effect. Food manufacturers must understand any new guidelines and take active steps to ensure that their product inspection systems are compliant in every way. This is vital to safeguarding consumer wellbeing, protecting their brand, and growing their business in lucrative markets.