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Information on version 7 of IFS Food

ProCert has informed his clients about the most important changes that affect them. Below you will find a summary of the points covered.

1. New IFS Food Doctrine V7 applicable from September 2021

At the end of June, IFS published a new Food Doctrine, which is applicable from September 2021. ProCert has informed its clients about the most important points.

2. Obligation to report incidents, registration in the IFS portal (new)

Organisations must inform their certification body within 3 working days of any changes "that may affect the company's ability to meet the certification requirements. The content of these notifications must now also be stored in the IFS portal.

3. Adapted Collaboration Guide (version 6)

ProCert has adapted his guide in various points. A chapter on the subject of incidents has also been added.

4. IFS integrity programme – with announced checks at very short notice

As a reminder: IFS may conduct an assessment with or otherwise request to work with an organisation at any time, for example, to process a complaint from a retailer. IFS carries out such checks annually at all certification bodies on at least 1% of the audited companies.

5. First IFS Food V7 Assessments &Preparation Forms

ProCert has created two forms which organisations are asked to complete before their first IFS Food Version 7 Assessment, so that the auditor can prepare the first IFS Assessment Report according to Version 7 quickly and without errors.

6. Head office and central functions

Assessments of central functions are also associated with certain risks for organisations. Extract from IFS Food V7: "If a serious non-conformity is detected during the IFS assessment of the head office /central administration, all assessed production sites are also affected and the certificates of these production sites are suspended".

7. Unannounced assessments

From 2021, every third audit or assessment must be unannounced, according to the requirements of the GFSI. This means that ProCert has until 2023 to implement this requirement.

8. Data update in IFS Portal

Certification bodies only can edit and update the master data of a company. Therefore, they depend on companies to inform them immediately if anything changes in the legal form, address, phone numbers and IFS contact person and emergency contact.

9. New IFS registration fees for uploads as of 1 January 2022

IFS has informed as of mid-July 2021 that IFS fees will be increased from 1 January 2022 as follows. The fee for all main standards (Food, Broker, Logistics, HPC, PAC Secure, Wholesale/Cash & Carry) will be increased from 300 euros to 350 euros.

10. Reminder: ProCert food safety culture self-assessment tool

At the end of March, ProCert has released a Food Safety Culture Self-Assessment Tool. This tool can be downloaded free of charge from the ProCert website under Downloads.

IN-Qualis standard:2018 - Certified quality of insertion

ProCert obtained the IN-Qualis accreditation at the end of July 2021. This standard replaces the former AOMAS 2010 standard in the field of social inclusion.

The IN-Qualis:2018 standard is a quality management system that was created specifically for quality assurance and development in the field of integration services.

Socio-vocational integration organisations support and accompany people with special needs in measures to restore, improve or maintain their employability, so that they can access the labour market or a training place (initial vocational training). 

Source (in French): www.arbeitsintegrationschweiz.ch/fr/norme-qualite

Find out more about ProCert's involvement in the Health & Social Care field: www.procert.ch/health-social-care

  • 08.07.2021

Adaptation of the Protection concept of certification bodies for audits and inspections in the presence of COVID certificates

ProCert and SQS have published a fourth version of their protection concept for the performance of management system and product certification audits.

The current edition of the protection concept specifies the procedure for the conduct of audits when the participating persons have a COVID certificate (Chapter 5).

The document is available for download here.

Standard ISO 21001:2018

ProCert has been successfully accredited according to the international standard "Management systems for educational organizations" (ISO 21001:2018) as of 1 April 2021.

The SAS reviewed our management system in detail and confirmed on the occasion of an accompanied audit last year that we are now able to carry out this standard under accredited conditions.

This standard is intended as a successor standard to ISO 29990. Our education contact persons will be happy to provide you with further information.

This standard is intended for all types of educational organizations.

ProCert tool for self-assessment in food safety culture

The requirement for a food safety culture is now a legal obligation in the EU. Regulation (EU) 2021/382 of 3 March 2021, which includes requirements in the field of food safety culture, entered into force on 24 March.

The ProCert management has created a tool based on a self-assessment with 12 key questions that companies can use free of charge in their organisation. With these questions, supported by concrete implementation examples and possible consequences in case of insufficient implementation, they will quickly get an overview of the situation in their organisation.

The purpose of this self-assessment is to get companies thinking about how to implement an effective food safety culture.

This tool can be downloaded from the ProCert website, under Downloads. It also contains a large number of questions and answers, which have also been published on the ProCert website under the new FAQ section, Food Safety Culture.

  • 17.02.2021

Adaptation of the Protection concept of certification bodies for audits and inspections during the Covid-19 pandemic

ProCert and SQS have published a new version of their protection concept for the performance of management system and product certification audits.

The third edition of the protection concept has been adapted concerning additional measures for the protection of the auditor's health (Chapter 1) and the overhead costs (Chapter 2).

The purpose of this protection concept for audits and inspections is to describe measures for the protection of the auditor (also in audit teams and for witnessers or observers) and the employees of the company, in addition to the requirements issued by authorities, companies and other stakeholders.

  • 10.02.2021

ProCert Belgium is moving!

At ProCert, we are recognised as professionals with high quality standards.

As such, we have sought to host ProCert Belgium in a location that is in line with our values. The Bluepoint Liège building met all our requirements in terms of location and the quality of the services offered.

Our new address: ProCert SA, 191 Boulevard Emile de Laveleye, 4020 Liège.

Our e-mail address remains unchanged: Our phone number: +32475483755.

For more information, visit our International page.

  • 04.02.2021

Renewal of accreditation ISO 17021 for the field of management systems

After several days of audits carried out in July and September 2020 by the auditors and experts of the Swiss Accreditation Service SAS, ProCert was re-accredited in January 2021 to conduct audits and carry out accredited certifications in the field of management systems.

A re-accreditation audit is carried out every 5 years, followed by annual surveillance audits and supplemented by numerous witnessing audits. ProCert has been accredited in the field of management systems since 1997, which represents seven consecutive re-accreditation cycles.

The accreditation and quality management system responsibility for the two areas of management systems and product certification lies with the management. This involvement and commitment are part of ProCert's corporate culture.

We are proud to have passed this audit, a success that we owe essentially to the relentless efforts of our auditors. They are committed to the values of ProCert every day, sometimes under difficult conditions, always focusing on delivering exemplary work.

You can consult the SAS certificate here. The detailed register of accredited standards is available here.

Concerning the field of product certification, the next re-accreditation audit is planned for this autumn.

Publication of the new IFS Food Version 7

IFS – International Featured Standards has announced the publication of the new IFS Food Version 7.

IFS Food is a worldwide acknowledged standard for assessing food manufacturers with a strong focus on food safety and the quality of processes and products.

The new version of this standard gives more clarity about what is expected from auditors when they perform an IFS Assessment. The requirements now have a more prescriptive nature, and the new structure makes it easier to work with the standard. More emphasis has been put on the on-site evaluation and less on documentation. The assessment checklist has been aligned with the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements version 2020.1, FSMA, and EU regulations.

For more information, please check our FAQ section and our training program.

New BRCGS registration fees

Certain BRCGS registration fees will be modified as of 1 August 2020.

This change concerns in particular the service package rates applicable to the Core Schemes (Food Safety, Packaging Materials, Agents & Brokers, Storage & Distribution and Retail), whose fee will increase from 590 EUR to 640 EUR from 1 August 2020.

The fee for certificate extension up to 6 months will be 320 EUR from 1 August 2020.

BRCGS Product Certification Programs

The BRCGS has published two product certification programs:

  • Gluten Free Certification Program 
  • Plant-Based Global Standard

These programs are open to any food processing company and allow the use of specific logos on the packaging of certified products.

You can consult the details of these programs under https://www.brcgs.com/brcgs/gluten-free-certification-program/ and https://www.brcgs.com/brcgs/plant-based-global-standard/.

If you are interested, please contact your account manager or the BRC Survey Officer.

News about FSSC 22000 Food, Packaging, Feed, Transport & Storage

Mandatory survey and new handling of corrections

Mandatory survey

FSSC asks certified organisations to clarify their status with regard to the impact of the pandemic. ProCert has prepared a questionnaire for this purpose, which was sent to all clients. This questionnaire does not need to be completed for clients with official requests for audit postponement or certificate extensions.

ProCert will provide information via the FSSC portal on the status of its clients before 1 July 2020.

New handling of corrections of minor non-conformities for audits from 1 June 2020.

FSSC has decided that for all audits from 1 June onwards, corrections will now be implemented within 28 instead of 90 days after the last audit day. During these 28 days, ProCert must also carry out the verification of implementation with submitted evidence.

The corrective action plan must now also be drawn up within these 28 days and validated and approved by ProCert.

Failure to comply with this 28-day deadline will result in the suspension of the certificate (as of today).

The ProCert portal will be released on 2 June and this adaptation will be integrated.

The ProCert Collaboration guide for food safety management systems has been adapted accordingly.

  • 14.05.2020

Protection concept of certification bodies for audits and inspections during the Covid-19 pandemic

ProCert and SQS have developed a protection concept in cooperation for the performance of management system and product certification audits.

The purpose of this protection concept for audits and inspections is to describe measures for the protection of the auditor (also in audit teams and for witnessers or observers) and the employees of the company, in addition to the requirements issued by authorities, companies and other stakeholders.

The protection concept is applicable for announced and unannounced audits, subject to possible requirements of the standard or certification programme.

COVID-19: Frequently asked questions

ProCert proposes two new FAQ sections "COVID-19" and "COVID-19 GFSI" dedicated to the most frequently asked questions about the standards recognized by GFSI and other standards. This compilation can be adapted to current conditions at any time (situation as of April 1st, 2020).

In order to answer the many questions that our customers have in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, we have created two new FAQ sections "COVID-19" and "COVID-19 GFSI" dedicated to the new coronavirus and its consequences in the various areas of certification.

These sections will be regularly updated according to the evolution of the situation and following the decisions taken by the various official bodies.

The remote audit as a real alternative

As a result of the current crisis with the coronavirus, direct contacts have to be reduced to a minimum and on-site audits have proved difficult or even impossible. Remote audits are the solution.

A rapid return to normality is not to be expected. A large number of audits are postponed or cancelled. This does not have to happen: remote audits can be carried out.

Possible for all standards?

All standards except IFS Food, BRC GS Food and FSSC 22000.

How does that work in practice?

ProCert has set out the organisation and implementation of remote audits in the collaboration guide. The collaboration guide is available to all clients on the ProCert Portal. 

ProCert offers free information webinars for clients (see webinars) 

For further information, clients can contact the ProCert contact persons, programme managers and market directors. 

Publication of IFS Food V7 postponed

The possibility for certification bodies to become IFS Food accredited has been available since the first publication of the IFS Food Standard in 2002. Accreditation is an essential part of guaranteeing the integrity of the IFS standards, which the certification bodies then demonstrate through the quality of their own certification activities.

With the establishment of a uniform European procedure, which necessitates a program evaluation (EA 1/22) by the European Accreditation Forum (EA), IFS is now formally required to comply with this procedure and undergo a program evaluation for IFS Food Version 7.

However, as a result IFS Food Version 7 will only be published once the evaluation by the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) has successfully been completed.

The publication of IFS Food Version 7 has therefore been postponed to summer 2020 at the earliest. It will become applicable for certification one year after publication.

FSSC Version 5: additional requirements

FSSC has approved and published additional requirements to ISO 22000:2018,which are mandatory with the V5 protocol.

For food chain categories C, D, I, G and K

In addition to ISO 22000:2018 clause 7.1.6 “Control of externally provided processes, products or services”, the organization shall have a procedure for procurement in emergency situations to ensure that products still conform to specified requirements and the supplier has been evaluated.

Interpretation: emergency situations are for example the disruption of the supply of a raw material by a supplier, in which case the organization must procure from another supplier that has not been approved under standard approval procedures.

The emergency procurement process must be able to assess the risk of such a procurement and propose adequate controls and checks to mitigate that risk, such as

  • A more thorough inspection of incoming lots
  • Require more detailed analysis reports
  • Carry out sampling for broader analysis
  • Applying detailed and formally accepted specifications
  • Require evidence of third party certification

For food chain category I (packaging)

In addition to ISO 22000:2018 clause 8.5.1.3 “Characteristics of end products”, the organization shall have specified requirements in place in case packaging is used to impart or provide a functional effect on food (e.g. shelf life extension).

For food chain category CI (Processing of perishable animal products)

  • In addition to ISO/TS 22002 1:2009 clause 9.2, the organization shall have a policy for the procurement of animals, fish and seafood which are subject to control of prohibited substances (e.g. pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines, heavy metals
  • In addition to ISO/TS 22002 1:2009 clause 10.1, the organization shall have specified requirements for an inspection process at lairage and/or at evisceration to ensure animals are fit for human consumption.
  • In addition to ISO/TS 22002 1:2009 clause 16.2, the organization shall have specified requirements in place that define post slaughter time and temperature in relation with chilling or freezing of the products.

FSSC 22000 Version 5: Important modifications

The new version 5 of the FSSC 22000 contains certain modifications of importance. We summarise the most important points below.

90-day deadline for corrections

From now on, corrections must be implemented within 90 days after the audit. Evidence must be uploaded on the ProCert Portal. If this deadline is not met, we are required by the FSSC to suspend the certificate.

Procedure in case of critical and major non-conformities

  • In case of confirmed critical non-conformities, the certificate must be immediately suspended for a maximum period of 6 months. A post-audit must be performed.
  • In case of major non-conformities, corrective actions must be implemented within 28 days, with a possible on-site audit. If this deadline of maximum 28 days is not met, the certificate must be suspended.

New requirements with ISO 22000:2018 on the subject of interested parties

If there are any problems interpreting the new ISO 22000:2018 Standard: we have published a few examples of topics from interested parties for our customers on the ProCert Portal.

Obligation to provide information

Customers must inform us of any changes in their organization. In the past, this concerned only food safety issues.

Latest developments in connection with the BRC Global Standard Food

Interpretation of requirement 1.1.2

The following position statement has been agreed to ensure expectations relating to compliance with clause 1.1.2; its consistent application at certificated sites and assessment during audits are understood. The clause is applicable to all sites certificated to Issue 8 of the Standard and shall be audited as part of all audits of the Standard. In summary, the clause requires sites to define and maintain a clear plan for the development and continuing improvement of food safety culture. This plan must include:

  • Clearly defined activities that will be completed
  • Involve all sections of the site that have an impact of product safety (whilst specific activities may be relevant to certain departments or roles, overall the plan must ensure that all relevant section/roles are covered)
  • An action plan indicating how the identified activities will be undertaken/completed
  • Measurement of the activities (i.e. where they completed, where the correct people involved, were activities successful, any other learnings)
  • Intended timescales for the completion of the activities
  • A review of the effectiveness of completed activities.

Where sites are non-compliant, the non-conformities shall be graded as follows:

Major Non-conformity

Where the site does not have a documented plan for food safety and quality culture. In this context a plan is more than a short statement of intent, but documentation incorporating the requirements of the clause (as summarised above).

Minor Non-conformity

Where a documented plan exists, but is:

  • of poor quality (e.g. insufficiently detailed, for example missing timescales for completion or absence of clear action plans)
  • does not cover all the relevant areas or staff
  • not fully implemented (e.g. some activities not implemented or not completed to predefined schedule).
  • Site review of the effectiveness of completed activities.

The third bullet point in the clause requires sites to undertake a review of the effectiveness of completed activities. However, as audits to the Standard only commenced in February 2019 it is possible that this review of the success of the programme, would not always be implemented in year 1 and therefore non-compliance with this bullet point is not considered a non-conformity until the site’s second audit to Issue 8.

Corrective action, root cause analysis and preventive action plans shall be developed in accordance with the section 2.3 of the audit protocol.

New calculator for audit duration

From 1 April 2020, the duration of on-site audits must comply with the new version of the calculator. For audits already covered by an agreement with the sites for 2020, this rule will apply from 1 January 2021. Since most ProCert customers already have signed a contract, it will in principle be adapted for 2021.

What are the main changes?

  • The duration of the on-site audit will be increased, on average, by 2 hours per site per year.
  • If the organization has high-risk, high-care and ambient high-care production areas, the duration shall be increased by 2 hours for each type of area.
  • If the organization integrates traded goods, 1 to 2 hours will have to be added.

The rules for additional modules do not change.

Additional official controls on products originating from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation and China

The European Commission, with the "Guidelines on additional official controls on products originating from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Russian Federation" and the "Guidelines on additional official controls on products originating from China", dated 28.11.2019, revised the additional control and reporting measures for certain groups of organic products grown and processed in defined countries.

Switzerland shares its basic import provisions for organic products with the EU. Switzerland ims to maintain equivalent requirements and modalities with the European Union regarding mports from third countries and is focused on the prevention of pesticide residues and fraud in imported organic products.

Therefore, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) has decided that the revised control and eporting measures as described in the official letters of the European Commission for the ear 2019 shall also apply for imports to Switzerland, for the control bodies recognized by the FOAG as equivalent according to art. 23a of the Organic Farming Ordinance (SR 910.18) for Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation and China.