While every food manufacturing site, big or small, needs to develop strong food safety systems, not every site is ready to meet the full requirements of a GFSI certification audit. Recognizing this, BRC has developed the START! Program in order to “recognize and encourage the development of food safety systems in small sites”.
What is the START! Program?
BRC START! is third-party food safety certification program designed to help small sites work toward alignment with the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety.
*Something to Note* The program only covers products that are manufactured or prepared onsite. The program can also include the storage facilities directly under the control of the audited site.
How the program is organized
The two levels offered with the BRC START! Program are Basic and Intermediate.
The Basic level requirements for the program are meant to help food manufacturers who are interested in pursuing full BRC certification compliance with basic legislative requirements for food safety. “Legislation covering food safety differs in detail worldwide but generally requires food businesses to:
- undertake a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) or risk-based approach to the management of food safety
- provide a processing environment which ensures that the risks of product contamination are minimized
- ensure the traceability of products produced
- ensure staff are trained and aware of their responsibilities to reduce the risk of product contamination
- establish and maintain a risk-assessed program for product examination, testing or analysis
- monitor and act upon customer complaints.
The intermediate level builds upon the basic-level requirements of safety and legality to provide more comprehensive controls on food safety.”[KE1] While both the Basic and Intermediate levels look for compliance to the intent of each clause of the code, the Intermediate level has more specific requirements for how the intent must be met.
Who should consider the START! Program?
While it makes sense for many sites to move directly toward GFSI certification, the START! Program should be especially beneficial for smaller sites for whom full GFSI certification is not yet practical. If you recognize that your site needs to be moving toward full GFSI certification but feel like you don’t yet have the resources to implement the full program, START! might be the right fit for you.
What are the benefits of the START? Program?
As detailed by the BRC, “the program
- is aligned with the GFSI Global Markets program (the full Standard is GFSI-benchmarked)
- provides a clearly defined audit and certification process operated in accordance with the requirements of accreditation
- uses auditors that meet the demanding competency requirements of BRC Global Standards
- enables companies achieving basic and intermediate levels to appear in the publicly available part of the BRC Global Standards Directory, thereby recognizing their achievements
- uses requirements based on the Standard, enabling the basic and intermediate levels to provide effective stepping stones towards full certification (if required by customers)
- requires completion of corrective actions on any non-conformities before certification at the basic or intermediate level is awarded, thus reducing the need for customers to follow up audit reports.”
In sum, the BRC START! Program provides smaller facilities who have fewer resources to dedicate to certification, the opportunity to obtain third-party certification from competent auditors and to have official recognition from a globally-recognized leader in food safety.
Who should I contact if I want to schedule a START! Program audit?If you have more questions, hope to get a quote, or are ready to schedule a START! Program audit, contact Sam Greenlee with Safe Food Certifications at 916-246-2806 or firstname.lastname@example.org