Standards updated - BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials

Packaging Professional magazine
22 May 2011
BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials

The BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials has been updated. Here is an overview of the key changes between Issue 3 and 4.

It is now three years since the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 3 was published and Issue 4 provides the opportunity to look again at the relevance of the Standard to emerging issues.

While the principles of the Standard and broad expectations remain unchanged, Issue 4 has been substantially rewritten and the operation of the scheme updated to reflect the implementation of the other schemes. The new Issue adds value to retailers and manufacturers alike in reflecting commitment to the scheme.

This also means, however, that it is not possible, in an article such as this, to provide a comprehensive list of every change, but the following information is intended to provide an overview of the most significant changes and improvements.

The scope of the Standard remains the same, encompassing packaging and packaging materials. However, Issue 4 provides greater attention to quality control and the functional properties of packaging that complement the established requirements of factory hygiene.

The number of risk categories has been reduced to two, based on the hygiene risk associated with the application of the packaging or packaging material. These are the High Hygiene Risk Category and Low Hygiene Risk Category, and can be broadly defined as food and non-food packaging, respectively. Generally, the statements of intent for the Low Hygiene Risk Category are based on expected outputs from the requirements.

The grading system from the BRC’s Food Safety and Consumer Products Standard has been incorporated into Issue 4, so the number and severity of non-conformities is reflected in the certification status and grade applied. Audit frequency and corrective action review will also relate to grade and performance. ‘Fundamental’ clauses have been introduced, relating to systems that are crucial to the establishment and operation of an effective packaging manufacturing operation. A Preparation and Planning section also provides guidance and support for sites new to the scheme’s audit and certification process.

Standard requirements

The Senior Management Commitment and Continual Improvement section incorporates the existing requirement of Senior Management Commitment by defining the component parts – for example, organisational structure, resource management and management (systems) review – together with new clauses demonstrating senior management involvement and commitment to the Standard, including setting and reviewing objectives for improvement. This section is identical in both categories. The quality policy has been moved into Section 1 to emphasise the importance of this within the context of senior management commitment.

Slight changes have been made to the Hazard and Risk Management System section to reiterate the importance of the use of a multi-disciplinary team to manage and review the implementation of the Standard, and to clarify the role of exemptions to the Standard found through the implementation of the pre-requisite programme.

In the Product Safety and Quality Management System section, the content of the clauses remains largely unchanged, but have been extensively reviewed and enhanced to ensure they are clear and add value to the pre-requisite programme. Notable inclusions are around establishing customer requirements as a function of customer focus, the requirement for a declaration of compliance as a greater emphasis on the functional and physical properties of packaging materials, and focus on the processes surrounding incidents, product withdrawals and recalls.

The Site Standards requirements covering the grounds, building fabrication and layout for staff facilities have only been slightly reworded. Site security measures have been extended to reflect the increased concerns in some regions of the threat of malicious contamination.

The greatest changes in the Product and Process Control section are the new clause requirements for managing packaging print control. The aim with this section is to ensure essential criteria, such as allergen information, is fully legible and correctly printed. This section also makes requirements over adequate segregation of printed packaging to prevent mixture of packaging types, particularly where composite or ‘gang’ printing is used. This formalises the general good practice followed by many packaging printers and reassures retailers and packaging end-users of the integrity of the information presented on the packaging.

Personnel requirements have been slightly altered for the Low Hygiene Risk Category the requirements surrounding medical screening have been removed.

Audit protocol

The general elements of the audit protocol remain the same, the process and audit duration remain as Issue 3 with some new elements introduced. Those familiar with the Food Safety and Consumer Product schemes will recognise the principles of grading and subsequent audit frequency based on grading. The grading thresholds in Packaging are the same as in the other Standards, with an A or B grade remaining on a 12-month audit frequency, and a C grade incurring a six-month audit frequency. Sites graded D will not be certificated.

Consequences for major non-conformities against the Statement of Intent of a Fundamental clause are also now in line with that of the Food Safety and Consumer Products Standards. Where non-conformity has been identified, the site will not be certified.

Detail has also been added to incorporate information on the operation and governance of the scheme.

Further information

A copy of Issue 4 can be ordered from the IOM3 book shop at

An interpretation guideline for Issue 4 of the Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials will also be available in summer 2011.