BRC 7: Food labelling control with EQMS

Posted by Marc Gardner on Tue, Jun 06, 2017

Every week, food brands across the UK are forced to recall their products due to labelling errors. Whether it's providing incorrect use-by dates, making invalid claims about a product's shelf life, or overlooking allergens, food manufacturing processes are failing to protect brands and consumers.  

food allergy fears.png

Why so many labelling issues?

Standards require more controls than ever before. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, which specifies what criteria food manufacturers must meet to obey the law and protect consumers, was last updated in January 2015 to provide a new section on product labelling. 

Organisations must now review their labels whenever there are changes to the raw materials they use or the ingredients that go into making a product. If product labelling is the responsibility of the customer or a third party, the organisation must make sure they have the most accurate and up-to-date information. 


Atheal Alwash, Account Manager at Qualsys Ltd, says problems with labelling are largely due to a lack of systems in place to control changes: "Many companies have very complex structures with incredibly complicated supply chains. So an external provider might change a process, for example, without there having been an appropriate risk assessment on the label." 

Not only is labelling and documentation important for avoiding shutdowns in production, it can also prevent losses of man hours, expensive legal penalties, costly shipping and distribution, and damage to the brand's reputation. If your organisation labels anything, you must have robust document control.

Rapid developments in printing technology and more streamlined manufacturing processes also mean there is a smaller margin for error and less time to put things right.



How EQMS can help

EQMS can be configured to provide you with a fully integrated labelling and document control management system. It centralises all information, identifies and manages risk, assigns responsibility for reviewing documentation, controls processes across your organisation, and gives you unshakeable control over your documents.

With EQMS Document Manager, for example, you can distribute documents to employees at any location, and adjust your notifications settings to require those employees to acknowledge that they've read and understood the documentation. 

EQMS Document Manager also automates the management of document lifecycles, keeping track of versions and ensuring the right information is available to the right people at the right time.

While it's impossible to completely eradicate human error, having an effective document management system is essential to maintaining control over your policies, procedures and other critical documents.


Document control software


Tags: Food Safety Management, BRC 7

BRC 7: Global food safety standard explained

Posted by Jamie Rose on Tue, Jun 06, 2017

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) first published its Global Standard for Food Safety in 1998. Developed to help the food industry comply with UK and EU food safety laws, it's become an internationally recognised benchmark for best practice in food safety, quality and responsibility, with over 17,000 BRC-certified sites worldwide.

Now in its seventh issue, the standard gives organisations working in the food industry – retailers, manufacturers, importers, caterers, ingredient suppliers – a framework for managing the safety, integrity and quality of their products and services. Many retailers across the UK, the US and Europe will only do business with suppliers who have passed audit and been accredited by a BRC certification body.

Below, we take a closer look at what the standard covers, what the latest issue (January 2015) introduced, and how your organisation can benefit from accreditation.

Food safety BRC

What the standard covers

The Global Standard for Food Safety sets out requirements for how processed foods and other products (for example, branded foods; retailer-brand foods; or ingredients used by food service companies, caterers or manufacturers) should be made or prepared. Only those products manufactured, prepared or stored at the site audited as part of the certification will apply.

The standard's divided into seven sections:

1 – Senior management commitment and continual improvement

Your senior managers must commit to implementing and continually improving your organisation's food safety processes.

2 – The Food Safety Plan – HACCP

Having a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan in place allows you to identify and manage any biological, chemical or physical hazards that could make the food you produce unsafe to eat.

3 – Food safety and quality management system

You should implement a system that enables you to produce safe products, meet customers' expectations and ensure staff are well trained.

4 – Site standards

Sites on which you manufacture or prepare food must be laid out, maintained, cleaned and secured according to strict standards. Your organisation must also meet requirements relating to the control of pests and foreign bodies.

5 – Product control

For your products to be considered safe, you need to demonstrate that you properly manage things such as allergens, provenance and product testing.

6 – Process control

You must implement your HACCP plan from day to day, and have effective procedures in place for ensuring you manufacture your products to the correct quality.

7 – Personnel

This part of the standard covers training, protective clothing, and hygiene.

BRC 7 aims to promote best practice and ensure that organisations are working to strong, consistent standards. By gaining the BRC certification, you can assure your customers that you're highly competent at monitoring and continually improving the quality and safety of your product, and that you've taken every possible precaution to prevent problems should that quality and safety ever be challenged.

What's in the latest version

BRC periodically review and update the standard to reflect changes in food safety laws and any new risks that may have emerged. Issue 7 of the standard was published in January 2015, and contains the following new sections.

Labelling and packaging control

Issue 7 improves requirements around labels and packaging control, with the aim of reducing the number of product recalls caused by incorrect labelling. You must have an effective procedure in place for reviewing your labels whenever you change your product's recipe or obtain raw materials from a different supplier, for example. If those labels are your customer's responsibility, you must make sure your customer has the new information.

You must also have a formal process for ensuring packing lines are using the latest labels.

Managing suppliers of raw materials and packaging

The updated standard now includes packaging as part of the requirement relating to how you manage your raw-materials suppliers. And as well as the usual HACCP risk assessments for allergens, contamination and so on, you must carry out risk assessments for substitution or fraud, and review these at least once a year. 

If you have any suppliers who are considered "high risk", you will need documented proof that they're effectively managing risks to the quality and safety of the raw materials, and operating effective traceability processes.


Exclusions – i.e. when you're only looking to get certified in a certain area or part of your operation – were found to be causing much confusion in terms of employees being unsure what rules apply to what production lines and so on. Issue 7 has taken away many of the circumstances in which exclusions could be stipulated within audits.

Product authenticity, claims and chain of custody

New requirements in Issue 7 limit the risk of BRC-certified sites purchasing fraudulent or adulterated raw materials.

Benefits of certification

  • Protects your brand and your customers
  • Allows you to do business with those retailers, manufacturers, ingredients companies and food service organisations who specify certification as part of their approval process
  • Helps reduce the number of product recalls, customer complaints and rejected products
  • Incorporates food safety management systems and internationally accepted best practice to ensure the safety and quality of products
  • Audits are carried out by trained and experienced certification bodies working to BRC Global Standards

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety was the first standard to meet the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmark, which means it's accepted by many of the world's biggest retailers, such as Tesco and Walmart. Achieving the certification ensures your customers have confidence in your products.


What you should do now

Want more information about BRC 7? Sign up for the GRC Newsletter. 



Tags: Food Safety Management, BRC 7

10 Quality Management Case Studies - Food Industry Insights [Booklet]

Posted by Emily Hill on Thu, Oct 13, 2016

There is so much choice about what to eat, where to eat and how to eat it, if your customers read or hear or see something about your product they do not like, they will not buy from you. If you put their health at risk, if you do not act ethically or if you mislead them, they will not buy from you.

But it is not just your brand you need to worry about. When one company is a victim of food crime, commits fraud or mislabels their products, it sets off reverberations across the entire industry. Consumer confidence is lost and buying habits change.

Food safety and quality is an industry-wide challenge which can only be tackled with collaboration and knowledge sharing.The food industry must work together to protect consumer confidence and trust. 

In September 2016, Qualsys Ltd was part of the Food Safety Trends Conference at London Museum of Docklands where food manufacturers, processors and retailers shared their experiences and expertise. 

Thanks to the input from 120+ delegates from across the food industry, we have put together this booklet of 10 case studies answering some of the questions and topics covered during the conference. 

The booklet will provide you with essential insights, opportunities, and help you to mitigate risk in your own food safety management system. 

Download the Booklet 




What is included?

1: Accountability - Sue Ashford Associate Director of QSEH at Coca Cola shares her non-conventional approach to improving employee accountability. 

2: Engaging Team with Quality - John Carter VP Quality and Sustainability of Dairy at Danone shares 3 key pillars for Cultural change. 

3: Controlling Processes when Company is Rapidly Expanding - Salvatorre Ranchetti, Group Quality Director at Ferrero discusses how the company manages a global quality management system. 

4: Leadership Engagement - Chris Moore at Compass Group shared strategies for engaging leadership with quality.

5: Inconsistent Allergen Tests - Manufacturers advise how to tackle risks of food allergens.    

6: Food Fraud - John O'Brien, Deputy Head of Nestle Research Centre shares techniques for protecting the brand from supply chain vulnerabilities. 

7: Barriers to entry - Roy Kirby, Global Director of Food Safety at Mondelez advises how the industry can raise barriers for entry to protect industry reputation. 

8: Keeping up with Legislative changes - Stephen Pugh, an EU food labelling consultant provides a list of trustworthy resources for keeping up with legislative changes. 

9: Food Crime - Andy Morling, Head of Food Crime at the FSA's National Food Crime Unit explains food crime and escalating suspicious activity. 

10: Food Waste - Dr Nikos Mavroudis, Head of Food Engineering and Separation Actives at Northumbria University discusses how separational laws can help remove toxins to reduce food waste and get more nutritional options.


Download Food Safety Insights Booklet here





Tags: Food Safety Management

6 Food Safety Management Experts You Should Follow on Twitter

Posted by Emily Hill on Thu, Sep 01, 2016

While you can definitely learn a thing or two from food safety news, consultants and your peers, there is also lots to learn from the food safety management experts that share their knowledge online. 

From bloggers to politicians, to revered food safety publications, there are a lot of voices discussing food safety news, trends and relaying their perspectives. But with so many people you could potentially follow, how do you pick the ones that will add the most value in your Twitter stream?

While we definitely could not include all food safety specialists, we have put together a list of 6 food safety management experts you should follow on twitter. Here are several of the best food safety related Twitter accounts out there today.

marion_nestle.jpg1) Marion Nestle

Every food safety manager, whether you are new to the industry or an experienced veteran, can definitely gain expert knowledge from Nestle. The author of several books about food policy, Nestle tweets only the best posts and insights about food safety. 



V_Andriukaitis.jpg2) Vytenis Andriukaitis 

Andriukaitis has approximately 13K followers on twitter. The EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety tweets the latest food safety news from Brussels. 



Julie_Pierce.jpeg3) Julie Pierce 

Having spent many years working at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as Chief Information Officer, Julie is definitely one to follow on Twitter. The Director of Openness, Data and Digital at the Food Standards Agency provides regular insights and shares the latest food safety news.



4) Tina Brillinger 

Tina is an accomplished networker in food safety, having founded 'Global Food Safety Resource' and was previously Publisher of Food Safety and Quality magazine in Canada. One to know in the industry, Tina tweets the latest articles and resources from GFSR, including blogs about food safety, food management standards, food risk and food science.



5) Matthew Regusci mattregusci.jpg

Regusci specialises in supply chain food safety and compliance from farm to fork. Matthew tweets about the latest issues in the food industry and shares articles from his blog. 



6) Doug PowellDoug_powell.jpg

Former professor of Food Safety, Doug Powell, uses twitter to broadcast the latest articles from his blog. Barfblog offers evidence-based opinions on current food safety issues. 



Don't forget to follow Qualsys on twitter! @QualsysEQMS for the latest news, views and resources to optimise your food safety management system. 


Supplier management


Tags: Food Safety Management

The Food Safety Conference 2016: Get up to £200 off your ticket with this code!

Posted by Emily Hill on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

Food and Beverage manufacturers are only too aware how poorly trained staff, inconsistent production processes and poor products inevitably lead to failure.

Global competition, international standards and tighter regulation are compelling producers to focus on food safety and quality more than ever before. 

Join us at the Food Safety Conference 2016 in London on Thursday 15th September to learn about the latest industry trends, network with your peers and hear presentations from some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Coca-Cola, Mondelēz International and Premier Foods.

Find out more about the event and how you can get up to £200 off your ticket below.


The focus of this year's event will be on identifying and reducing threats and vulnerabilities with advanced risk assessments around fraud, contaminants and industry challenges. 

The conference will explore hot topics in food safety management, supply chain traceability and raw material authenticity including:

  • Horizon Scanning & Industry Trends – Anticipating The Next Big Threat: Assess the trends in industry recalls and outbreaks and harness horizon scanning to predict and prepare for emerging risks.
  • Identifying & Reducing Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Best-practice methods for robust risk assessment and traceability of your raw materials and supply chain to assess the various threats.
  • Food Fraud – Don’t Get Caught Out! Harness insights into the best methods and systems to maintain the authenticity and integrity of your end product.
  • Next-Level Authenticity Testing: Ensure the authenticity of your raw materials and map your supply chain with the latest tools, techniques and developments.
  • Prevent The Threat Of Contamination & Outbreaks: Best-practice detection methods and controls to protect your food and drink products from micro, chemical and physical contamination.
  • Advanced Allergen Control: Avoid the cost of allergen recalls and the risk of cross-contamination with robust detection methods and on-site controls.
  • Uncovering Retailer Expectations: Don’t fall short of retailer expectations and motivations.
  • Successfully Implementing & Preparing For Legislation Updates: Strategies to meet current industry standards and assessing the likely impact of legislation changes.
  • Embedding Food Safety Culture: Best-practice training methods to entrench food safety culture within your organisation.

Qualsys Ltd, who are exhibiting at the conference, have teamed up with the Food Safety Conference event organiser, Global Insight Conferences, to get up to £200 off every ticket our subscribers purchase. 

To get this deal, simply enter: 'Qualsys' in the ID Code field when you book online at   

Tags: Food Safety Management