Unannounced Food Safety Audits

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Food Manufacturers, particularly those that supply UK retailers with own label products, are increasingly being expected to undertake unannounced Food Safety Audits. These will usually either be based upon the @BRC_Standards, or a retailers stand-alone Food Manufacturing Standard.

Tesco have been doing unannounced audits for several years with their Tesco Food Manufacturing Standard, although since Horsegate in 2013 other retailers have started their own unannounced audit schemes.

Unannounced Food Safety Audits

ASDA took advantage of the opportunity offered by the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety during 2013 to introduce their requirement for an unannounced BRC audit; this was expanded during 2014 when they introduced their BRC Bolt-on, to add some ASDA specific requirements.

Marks and Spencer started unannounced audits during April 2015 as reported in @FoodManufacture during September 2015, and COOP are the latest retailer to announce that they will require their suppliers to opt into the BRC unannounced scheme for roll-out during 2016.

During the IFST 2015 Spring Conference David Brackston,  Technical Director, BRC Global Standards said that 900 sites were currently part of the BRC unannounced program, this may have grown during the last 10 months, but will certainly grow in the next 12 months following the COOP initiative.

The evolving picture of unannounced food safety audits, BRC and otherwise, will lead to sites becoming more accustomed to working in a way that the sites are always audit-ready.

To help your site work to BRC, and your customers standards, all day every day take the initiative and introduce a program of unannounced audits using an independent BRC Registered Consultant. Unannounced audit scheduling is often only known by the most senior members of the organisation, is used to test the audit readiness of a site, and introduce improvements in a calm and controlled manner.

BRC Registered consultants have many years of relevant experience, are typically trained to the same level as your BRC auditor and may also conduct BRC and retailer audits themselves.

This blog is written by Ian Trevor, a BRC Registered Consultant for the Food and Agent and Brokers Standards. Ian has been the Managing Director of Food Fix for 14 years and splits his time between auditing for BRC certification bodies and UK Retailers and also conducting consultancy for businesses that need additional food safety support. Please feel free to get in touch.