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Almost a year on since BRCGS Issue 8!

I can’t believe it’s December already, I hope you’re feeling festive and not too stressed out if your site has a big Christmas peak in production!

Here are a few thoughts from 2019

We are almost a year into BRCGS issue 8 (still struggling to get used to the new name!), although some of you might still be eagerly awaiting your first issue 8 audit!

What have we learnt from BRCGS Issue 8?


This new requirement has generated many minor non-conformances and I’m sure we will see the expectation raised in the next round of audits as auditors look for evidence of continued efforts to improve culture, not just an initial push!

My advice:

  • Be consistent with the message and persistent with how you reinforce it!
  • Go for a little and often approach, rather than the rollercoaster of a big push then it all gets forgotten.  Start at a pace of change that you can maintain.
  • Regularly assess progress against your improvement plan – building this into regular management review meetings will prompt this.
  • Make your improvements measurable. Culture metrics such as staff turnover, absenteeism, GMP audit scores, non-conformances, and staff engagement levels are useful.

Here are a few great ideas I’ve seen throughout the year:

  1. Word of the week – a site which was struggling with language barriers used the screens in their canteen to display a chosen word (technical, seasonal, funny etc) in each language and as a picture. This generated lots of conversation and laughs as people helped each other with pronunciation. Simple but really effective.
  2. A day in the life of… – one site used a ‘day in the life of’ to help different departments better understand each other’s challenges. This led to much more positive interactions between departments and faster NC actions.  It gave a good reminder that everyone is on the ‘same side’.
  3. Table talkers in canteens – (the kind of thing you see on restaurant tables). I’ve seen these used effectively at several sites. They are cheap, quick and easy to do, and are a great way to communicate and generate conversation.

Want to know more about food safety culture?

Have a look at our blogs on Food Safety Culture:

How can we help?

We have some great training courses for Food Safety Culture available – have a look at the below courses we can offer on-site for up to 12 delegates.

Site security & food defence

This new clause doesn’t appear to have generated too many non-conformances, as the bones of it would have been there in a site security risk assessment.

However, I have some concerns here as I think many sites, especially senior teams, still have their ‘heads in the sand’ thinking it will never happen to them.  These risk assessments can end up being paper exercises as opposed to driving change and greater protection.

Think – if you were going to do something malicious to your site or product what would you do, how would you do it and when? Don’t forget the ’when’!

We often arrive on site to start a course before the reception is manned, and for sites without a 24-hour manned gatehouse, gaining access to the building isn’t difficult – someone holds the door open for you but doesn’t ask who you are, or the door is wedged open! It is still probably less than 10% of sites where we are asked for any form of ID (maybe we just all look very honest!)

Want to know more about Food Defence?

Have a look at our blogs & books on food defence…

How can we help?

Along with our textbook and blogs, we specialise in helping you to create, and improve your assessments, as well as getting the word out there to the wider team about how they can help with keeping your site secure to remove threats.

Finally, if you need any help with the BRCGS Issue 8 course, please get in touch! We still offer the fantastic BRCGS Audit Expectations/Awareness Course

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