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B3 Labs has received a Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards – BRCGS certification – twice, most recently in October 2021. The Manchester-based CBD product manufacturer, specialising in white labelling, is the first of its kind in Europe to be audited and certified to this level.
Considered the gold standard in food safety, this certification is a prerequisite for any brand with its sights set on retail.
What is the BRCGS certification?
Founded in 1996, BRCGS was established by a group of retailers who wanted to harmonise food safety standards across the supply chain. It is now globally recognised across both food and non-food categories and operates the most rigorous third party certification scheme of its type.
BRCGS is the gold standard in food product manufacturing, including CBD.
What does a BRCGS certification involve?
Every aspect of the supply chain is covered, including food safety, packaging materials, storage and distribution, consumer products, agents and brokers, retail, allergens, plant-based and ethical trading.
It also sets the benchmark for good manufacturing practice, and helps to provide assurance to customers that the products they’re buying are safe, legal and of quality.
Certification or accreditation: What’s the difference?
Certification is often confused with accreditation. The main difference is the body that performs the audit. In the case of food companies, the company that obtains the recognition is audited by a certification body, which in turn is audited by an accreditation body, UKAS, in the case of the United Kingdom. Each nation has their own national accreditation scheme. Laboratories are audited directly by the accreditation body, hence they are accredited, and not certified. Although it is widely used, it is incorrect to say that a food company is BRCGS accredited, the word certified should be used.
Ask the expert: Isabel Álber
Food scientist Isabel Álber has worked in the food industry across various nations, including the UK, Spain and Australia. With her experience as a lead auditor for quality systems, food management systems, good manufacturing practices and several other top tier international standards, Isabel highly recommends choosing a product manufacturer with BRCGS certification.
Why choose a manufacturer with BRCGS certification?
It’s not just a case of filling out some forms and ticking a few boxes. Isabel says: “A company which is BRCGS certified has demonstrated that they comply with all food safety, quality, legality and integrity aspects of the site, products and processes under the scope of certification.
“It is very important to underline that it is site specific, so if a company who is BRCGS certified is seeking to approve a supplier of a new ingredient, the ingredient’s specifications need to clearly state where the ingredient is manufactured.
“There are also other ways to approve a supplier, such as travelling to their site and auditing them there, but that has to be part of a risk assessment.
“Only suppliers that are deemed to be low risk can be approved by filling up a questionnaire and proving that they have an effective traceability system in place, in case that there is a product recall.”
Why should CBD brands and retailers care about this kind of certification?
Many CBD brands operate on a white labelling model, outsourcing the production phase to expert manufacturers like B3 Labs.
Isabel says: “First of all, it is important to clarify that in order to obtain this certification you must have a site where the product or packaging is manufactured, traded, stored or distributed. A brand would contract the manufacturing to a specific site if they do not own their own, and it is this site that needs to be certified.”
The UK’s Food Safety Act 1990, and EU Food Law Regulation 178/2002 – this is still applicable in the UK post-Brexit – both feature due diligence. If a company is involved in a food safety alert where a consumer has been injured after using their product, the defence of the company in front of a judge is that every measure possible had been taken to prevent the food injury from happening in the first place.
Isabel says: “An independently challenged system such as BRCGS, is exactly that type of defence.”
Is BRCGS essential if I want to make and sell a food product in the UK?
Isabel says it is if you have any ambition to list with mainstream retailers:
“None of the big retailers such as Tesco, ASDA, M&S would consider a potential supplier to manufacture their products without first having this certification. It is considered the very bare minimum for them to trust a company to manufacture a product that carries their name, as if there is a problem with their product, their brand would be at stake, and that is very difficult to rectify.”
The food scientist adds: “Having an independent check on a quality management system also means a fresh pair of experienced eyes challenging how the product is manufactured and the standards of the site, which is a way to continuously improve the system.”
To find out more about B3 Labs white labelling services and CBD product manufacturing standards, email firstname.lastname@example.org