BRC, FSSC and IFS Meaning In Food Industry For Producers and Suppliers

BRC, IFS and FSSC 22000

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For producers and suppliers in the food industry, understanding the BRC, FSSC, and IFS meaning is crucial. These certifications play a vital role in enhancing product safety compliance and minimizing the risk of complaints and end-product recalls.

Moreover, research indicates that food safety certifications are associated with a lower incidence of foodborne illnesses [1]. BRC, FSSC 22000, and IFS certifications are instrumental in mitigating these risks. Explore their importance for producers and suppliers and role in food industry in this article.

After years of operating in Agricultural Markets, we have gained an understanding of the practical BRC, FSSC and IFS meaning in the food industry. These certifications, recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), act as benchmarks for quality standards while we select our suppliers.

BRC Meaning In The Food Industry

BRC Certification was established by the British Retail Consortium to protect the end consumers. It is a leading global standard for the safety, quality and responsibility of food production. This is why it is widely recognized for its rigorous assessment processes and operational criteria necessary. Therefore, this accreditation is often the first choice for processed food producers in order to fulfill legal obligations.

BRC internal - Wikimedia Commons
BRC internal Wikimedia Commons

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 9 (new version from 2022) is divided into seven critical sections [3]:

  • Senior Management Commitment
  • The Food Safety Plan – HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points)
  • Food Safety and Quality Management System
  • Site Standards
  • Product Control
  • Process Control
  • Personnel

These ensure that food manufacturers can meet rigorous international requirements related to the distribution of safe products.

Audit and certification processes

Achieving BRC Certification requires a detailed third-party audit conducted by registered Certification Bodies. The auditor assesses the company against the specific standards set forth by BRCGS. The accreditation process includes an evaluation of over 300 criteria. This takes place directly on the production site. BRC audits can be unannounced [2], which can result in achieving grade A+ by the audited company. This offers a genuine reflection of everyday operational standards and food safety culture enhancing trust in food certification integrity.

Global recognition

BRC Certification is widely accepted in major European markets, notably in the UK and The Netherlands [4].

BRC facilitate international trade by standardizing food safety requirements in global supply chains. This results in reducing the need for multiple supplier external and internal audits. The BRC Directory lists over 22,000 sites in 130 countries [5].

BRC enhances operational efficiencies and consumer trust globally. With that in mind, the BRC standard mostly concerns food processing companies aspiring for the best product quality in local and global markets.

FSSC Meaning In The Food Industry

FSSC 22000 certification is a robust food safety system. It has been ensuring raw ingredients quality and traceability in the supply chain for over a decade. This international food standard helps reduce the need for multiple supplier external and internal audits.

FSSC 22000 - system Bezpieczeństwa ...
FSSC 22000 Quality System

ISO integration

FSSC 22000 builds on ISO 22000 standards [6], expanding its requirements with regulations specific to food production and management. It covers a wide range of food sectors including manufacturing, packaging, storage, and transport of loose food products and ingredients. FSSC ensures thorough safety checks at each stage. Therefore it is an excellent choice for organizations striving for comprehensive food quality and safety management.

Certification process

To achieve certification, producers and suppliers must follow a structured process. This includes selecting the standard, forming a dedicated team, reviewing requirements, preparing the site of production and processing, and undergoing a detailed audit.

Benefits for suppliers and producers:

  • FSSC 22000 is recognized by major global retailers like Walmart and Amazon [7], which emphasize consumer trust
  • The standard emphasizes continual improvement which helps manufacturers meet specific requirements of their customers
  • Shortens the time needed to investigate the cause of product contamination
  • The certificate is valid for three years

Incorporating FSSC 22000 standards is a good manufacturing practice. Raw materials provided by suppliers holding this certificate meet the most rigorous specifications for quality and safety.

IFS Food Standard Meaning In The Industry

IFS (International Featured Standard) was developed by the French Retail Association and the German Retail Association in 2002, focusing initially on food safety [8]. It has since expanded to include standards for various industry sectors. This certification is often a first choice for food and beverage manufacturers aiming to expand within the European market. This is because most EU retailers require this international standard for products sold in their stores.

IFS international standard
IFS Food Quality System

Key aspects of IFS Certification:

  • IFS certification is gaining traction in the U.S. besides being popular in Europe
  • IFS offers a range of support services, including e-learning, approved certification bodies for auditing, and guidance documents to assist companies in achieving and maintaining their certification
  • Besides food, the IFS standard also covers logistics, brokers, and packaging (HPC and PAC secure).This is an excellent choice for companies operating in different segments of the supply chain

Under the IFS Food Standard, suppliers are assessed on whether they produce products and raw materials that are safe, authentic and of high quality. This can guarantee meeting legal requirements and customer specifications. As the food industry’s demands for transparency and traceability increase, it improves product integrity and operational efficiency

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GFSI Benchmarked Standards – Globally Accepted

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) plays an important role in improving and aligning food safety standards. Its goal is to increase the global recognition of food safety schemas such as IFS, FSSC 22000, SQF, and BRCGS. Both food manufacturing companies and suppliers of raw ingredients consider it essential to be part of this globally recognized scheme since it contributes to smooth cross-border trade.

Widespread acceptance

Major retailers worldwide support GFSI-benchmarked standards.

Statistics

As of recent data, 38,461 companies across 11 countries hold BRC, IFS, or FSSC 22000 certifications, with Italy leading at 18.6%, followed closely by Germany and Spain at 15.7% each [4].

IFS Food standard applies also to plants which pack loose food products

Selection guidance for food companies: Suppliers and Producers

There are several important factors to consider when choosing the right certifications that align with your company’s needs and market demands.

  1. Certification duration and renewal:
    Certifications like BRC and FSSC require an annual re-certification audit, and IFS is valid for three years, offering a longer cycle before renewal is necessary
  2. Business needs and market requirements:
    You should choose certification based on your company’s needs, your products’ characteristics, and your position in the supply chain. Your current management systems, historic compliance, and customer or industry preferences should be also taken into consideration
  3. Support and recognition:
    You choose a certifying body that not only offers the needed certification but also provides support throughout the process

Conclusion

In conclusion, we’ve highlighted how important food safety certifications like BRC, FSSC, and IFS are for both producers and suppliers in the food industry. These certifications show a strong commitment to maintaining high standards of quality and safety, which is crucial for public health and meeting food regulations.

At Seedea, we connect you directly with trusted food suppliers who prioritize transparency and quality. Our partners hold the latest certifications like FSSC 22000 or IFS, ensuring they meet industry standards. Explore our range of organic and conventional food ingredients from certified suppliers, giving you confidence in the safety and quality of your products.

FAQs

What are the levels of IFS Food?

Companies can earn IFS at two levels:

  • Foundation (score in the range of 75 to 95%)
  • Higher (scores above 95%).

What is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)?

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

What are the types of IFS?

The IFS, or International Featured Standards, include several specific types such as IFS Food, which focuses on food processing companies and packed products. IFS Logistics for companies dealing with transport and storage, IFS Broker for agents and importers, and IFS Wholesale/Cash & Carry. Additionally, there are standards like IFS Food Store or IFS PAC secure for packaging materials.

What is IFS Global Markets?

There are four IFS Global Market development programs. Companies not yet ready to implement a GFSI-approved standard dedicate themselves to IFS Global Markets Food (or IFS Progress Food from 14 May 2024). It is a step-by-step approach towards implementing higher standards.

What is the IFS food standard audit scheme?

The IFS Audit Scheme sets an internationally accepted standard for quality and safety audits concerning food and non-food sector processes and products. The scheme offers a full framework within which companies can show, by independent, frequent auditing, compliance with food safety legislation and quality guidelines.

Sources:

  1. “Predicting Foodborne Disease Outbreaks with Food Safety Certifications” available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362028X23068205 (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  2. “BRCGS Food Safety” available at: https://www.brcgs.com/our-standards/food-safety/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  3. “What is BRCGS? Global food safety standard explained” available at: https://www.ideagen.com/thought-leadership/blog/what-is-brcgs-global-food-safety-standard-explained (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  4. “BRC, IFS, FSSC 22000 Certification: overview of 11 countries” available at: https://www.qassurance.com/brc-ifs-and-fssc-22000-certification/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  5. “What Is BRC (BRCGS) Certification?” avilable at: https://fsns.com/what-is-brcgs/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  6. https://www.fssc.com/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  7. “FSSC 22000: All You Need to Know” available at: https://safetyculture.com/topics/fssc-22000/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  8. https://www.ifs-certification.com/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  9. “The Economic Impact For Manufacturing Sites Operating To BRCGS Certification”_SITES_OPERATING_TO_BRCGS_CERTIFICATION” available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/355710552_THE_ECONOMIC_IMPACT_FOR_MANUFACTURING_SITES_OPERATING_TO_BRCGS_CERTIFICATION (accessed on April 18, 2024)
  10. https://mygfsi.com/ (accessed on April 18, 2024)

Author

Piotr Goral Post Picture

Piotr Góral

Co-Founder of Seedea

piotr@seedea.pl

+48 500 831 909

For many years, together with his small team, he has been boosting the sales of Polish family companies that supply food ingredients (mainly organic) to different foreign markets. His role involves creating new business projects and managing sales. He loves visiting suppliers and farmers during his travels, gathering valuable information that he shares through his articles.

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