Food Safety Certification for Smaller Businesses

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Courtesy of SGS

Bringing food safety certification to smaller, less well developed, operations, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has developed the Global Markets Programme, in line with Issue 7 of its Global Standard for Food Safety.

It is recognised that it takes extensive time and investment to develop the food safety culture needed to meet the Global Standard for Food Safety requirements and achieve full BRC certification. In addition, for smaller businesses certification against the full standard may not add value and in some cases can become an unnecessary cost. The new scheme offers a first step for businesses that may eventually want to progress to certification against the full standard.

Focus on Food Safety, Legality and Quality Management

There are two levels of recognition – basic and intermediate. The Basic level focuses on food safety and legality. The Intermediate level starts to introduce more quality management system elements.

Aligned with the GFSI Global Markets Programme, but using the requirements of the main BRC Standard, it helps companies with implementation. The requirements are more prescriptive, so give clear direction to the less experienced business. There are also BRC Guidelines to Implementation for the main standard, which explain the requirements in more depth..

Certification Process

The process includes a full audit on site, with an opening and closing meeting, factory tour, traceability test and document review. Auditors will interview staff performing their roles, as well as testing the procedures. If any non-conformities are found, they are recorded and presented at the closing meeting. The site must then present an action plan to address non-conformances and evidence that the actions have been implemented. If any of the non-conformities are Critical (a critical failure to comply with a food safety or legality issue), a full re-audit will be conducted. Audits typically last 1-1.5 days depending on the size of the site and the level being audited.


Once the non-conformances are closed and a report completed, a Letter of Recognition is issued and the details uploaded to the public BRC Global Standards Directory. This demonstrates a commitment to food safety for existing and prospective customers.

The Letter of Recognition is valid for 12 months. At this point a re-audit is conducted at the same level or higher if requested.

The standard is free to download from the BRC Global Standards website.

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