BRC Global Standards released ‘Food Safety a Global View’ report which fully analyses data and identifies vital trends and developments from audits conducted in 2012 audits in 113 countries covering over 16,000 food sites. The purpose of the reports was to highlight commonalities, map areas of strength and weakness, share best practice, identify challenges and suggest next steps.
The researchers analysed a sample of 6,500 audit reports uploaded onto the BRC Directory over a seven month period in 2012. The audit reports were from manufacturing sites across the world. Then they looked at Non-Conformities individually and in groupings, and also analysed ABC audit grades and product categories.
With 279 clauses in total, they collapsed these into 56 groups and analysed these across our main countries and territories.
The researchers identified consistent patterns of Non-Conformity emerged. With only a few exceptions, the dominant Non-Conformities were concerned with the identification and management of food safety hazards (Section 2, HACCP), Building Fabric (Section 4.4), Pest Control (Section 4.13) and Housekeeping and Hygiene (Section 4.11). In particular, HACCP presented the most problematic set of criteria, and across all regions sites need to improve the maintenance of their HACCP food safety plans.
The most common non-conformances identified during BRC audits were:
Section 2 – HACCP
One stage in the HACCP process is to construct a process flow diagram. This diagram should be an accurate representation of all the processing steps to make the product. The most common cause of an HACCP Non-Conformity is that this document is not accurate, or that it does not contain enough detail.
Section 4.4 – Building Fabric
The most common Non-Conformity relating to building fabric is the condition of the doors. Doors must be properly fitting, with correct closures and seals so that there are no gaps where pests could get into the building.
Section 4.13 – Pest Control
Two types of inspection are required as part of the pest control programme – routine inspections of pest control measures, and a detailed on-site survey by a qualified pest control expert. The most common Non-Conformity relating to pest control is that these in-depth surveys are either not completed, are not sufficiently frequent, or are not sufficiently detailed.
Section 4.11 – Housekeeping and Hygiene
There are two common causes of Non-Conformity in this area. The first involves the standard of the cleaning procedure documentation, which often fails to include all the correct information or is not sufficiently detailed to enable staff to complete cleaning correctly.
The secondly relates to the standard of cleaning, e.g. if equipment is found to be insufficiently cleaned or not cleaned in accordance with the standards defined by the company.
Section 1 – Senior Management Commitment
To this end, senior management must set objectives concerning food safety and quality which help to achieve the company’s policy on these subjects. The most common Non-Conformity here is that these objectives are not set, or are not monitored or reviewed with sufficient frequency.
Section 4.7 – Maintenance
The most common form of Non-Conformity relating to maintenance is that companies cannot demonstrate that there is sufficient cleaning and sign-off after maintenance is completed.
Section 4.8 – Staff Facilities
The most common Non-Conformity here is that hand-washing facilities do not fully meet the requirements of the Standard.
3.4 – Internal Audits
The most common Non-Conformity in this section relates to the scope, frequency and records of the documented inspections of the factory environment and equipment.
Section 4.9.3 – Glass, Brittle Plastic, Ceramics and Similar Materials Control
The most common Non-Conformity here relates to incomplete lists of items, which leads to incomplete monitoring.
Section 3.9 – Traceability
The main Non-Conformity in this section relates to incomplete systems, or the incomplete application of a system – for example, if batches of packaging cannot be traced, or if labels/records are incomplete.
Some regions, however, did not match the global trend. In Southeast Asia Specifications for Raw Materials and Packaging (Clause 3.6.1) was the most commonly-occurring Minor Non- Conformity, and issues with the management of processing controls (Clause 6.1.2) the third most common (typically 59th globally). Meanwhile, Southeast Asian sites proved good at controlling risks from non-food chemicals (Clause 126.96.36.199), which is a weak area for most countries, usually ranking second among commonly-occurring Minor Non-Conformities.
In terms of overall performance, the UK emerged as the global leader in BRC food safety standards, with 86.9% of its sample sites receiving a Grade-A rating. The US, a huge growth area for global food exports, recorded the second-highest score, followed by Italy, the Netherlands and Poland (another exciting growth area).
At the other end of the scale, China was lowest-performing country, with only 25.5% of its sample site achieving a Grade-A rating. Spain, too, performed poorly, recording the lowest score for Europe and second-lowest globally; a performance which is at odds with the high quality of Spanish raw materials and produce. Spain’s low Grade-A rating is attributable to the large number of Minor Non-Conformities recorded – with 37% of the audited sites containing more than 10 Minors – while the economic crisis appears to have impacted the availability of personnel to oversee and enforce high standards within food production sites.
Materials: BRC Global Standards, Report