• Food Safety Culture

  • Unannounced Audits

  • Blended Audits

  • New Voluntary Modules (e-commerce)

Certification to food manufacturing standards is a major component of Mérieux NutriSciences’ certification body operations, but GFSI benchmarking requirements also cover other areas of the food chain including the storage, handling, and delivery management sector known as logistics. For companies in the food logistics industry that are seeking a GFSI benchmarked certification program, BRCGS’ Global Standard for Storage and Distribution has become an increasingly popular option.

The Global Standard for Storage and Distribution (S&D) was introduced by BRCGS in 2006 to complete a suite of global standards that covered the production of food, packaging, and consumer products. With the S&D Standard, the critical intermediary stage of product storage and distribution is now managed with best practices in a risk-based safety management system. Certification to this Standard upholds consumer confidence from production to final end-use and provides facilities with a process of continual improvement through well-designed risk-based management systems. BRCGS has stated that the S&D Standard is its fastest-growing program, demonstrating a global interest in safe and secure supply chains. Mérieux NutriSciences Certification LLC has been offering certification to the S&D Standard since 2012 and leads as the largest S&D certification body in the North American market.

BRCGS recently underwent a review of the previous issue of the Standard to advance and update it for the current market. Issue 4 has been developed by a multi-stakeholder group that includes retailers, food service companies, trade associations, and certification bodies, and builds upon the experience of the previous issue. BRCGS published Issue 4 of the Global Standard for Storage and Distribution in November 2020 and audits to the Standard are set to begin May 1, 2021. As a primary certification body, Mérieux NutriSciences Certification LLC wants to promote success for clients and the industry as a whole. The following are some key changes for Issue 4:

Food Safety Culture

The product safety culture that prevails at the site is fundamental in the ongoing management of product safety. Issue 4 of the S&D Standard affirms this culture and includes additional clauses in the Senior Management Commitment section of the Standard. The new clauses require the site to introduce and implement a plan for the development and continuing improvement of a product safety culture. This includes a confidential reporting system to enable staff to report concerns relating to safety, legality, quality, and integrity. A robust and pervasive culture will lead to empowerment and a fortified commitment to the supply chain. 

Unannounced Audits

The number of unannounced audits among customers has increased and has provided greater confidence in the implementation of a product safety culture. To echo this in the supply chain, GFSI introduced the requirement for all certificated sites to have at least one mandatory unannounced audit every 3 years, regardless of whether they selected announced or unannounced audit options. The first cycle begins in 2022 and lasts until 2024, wherein each site will have at least one unannounced audit during this time. This requirement will ensure that facilities remain vigilant against food safety issues and maintain an operating quality that is consistently audit-ready and attentive. We are working to institute this requirement and will be providing additional information in the future.

Blended Audits

As new technologies emerge and infrastructural issues like the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to disrupt the industry, alternate methods for conducting audits are needed. BRCGS has included a new option in Issue 4 to allow for a blended audit with a partially remote audit day coupled with the onsite assessment. The introduction of the blended audit option provides an opportunity for sites to engage with the auditor using ICT (information and communication technology). ICT is used for gathering, retrieving, processing, analyzing and transmitting information relating to certification audits. It can help reduce onsite audit time during instances where minimal in-person contact is preferred. Issue 4 of the S&D Standard has color-coded clauses that assist auditors and sites in determining which clauses can be assessed remotely or in person. Blended audits are an important tool in the auditing toolbox as they allow for greater flexibility while navigating the sometimes difficult and dynamic challenges of auditing during a pandemic or other natural disasters that affect certification audits.

New Voluntary Modules (e-commerce)

Issue 4 maintains the principles that enable the incorporation of additional modules into the main scope of certification. These modules allow sites to include extra requirements during their audits to meet the needs of particular customers or regulators, and to reduce the number of site audits. Two new modules – e-commerce and cross-docking – are introduced in Issue 4. E-commerce is increasingly relevant in the digital landscape as online ordering has seen significant growth during the last year. As e-commerce is rapidly evolving, Issue 4 expects the company to demonstrate that it can readily access legislation relating to e-commerce activities in the country, state, or territory from where the product is shipped to where it is sold to the ultimate consumer. A traceability system also needs to be established across the product groups sold online to ensure traceability can be determined from the customer’s order through to delivery and vice versa, including any returns. The Issue 4 Standard requires forward and backward traceability throughout the operation meaning the facility should know where the product has come from and to whom it was dispatched and vice versa.

What can Mérieux NutriSciences Do for You?

Mérieux NutriSciences Certification LLC is excited about the new changes from BRCGS and we’re ready to support Issue 4 of the Global Standard for Storage and Distribution. We are proud to be a partner in promoting BRCGS and the safety and security of the global food chain. For more information about consulting to assess your organization’s readiness or to pursue BRCGS S&D Issue 4 certification contact our experts today.

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