Food Safety Tech (FST): We’re very excited to have you participate in the SafetyChain/ FoodSafetyTech’s GFSI Leadership Webcast Series with the October 24 BRC – The Road Ahead webcast. We know that you’ll first be addressing what is new with BRC today. What are some of the things you’ll be talking about in terms of current changes?
Kukoly: We are just on the cusp of releasing Issue 7 for BRC. This is scheduled to be released in January 2015. With this, there will be some changes made to how food companies and facilities can obtain the BRC standard. We have a really unique system, termed BRC Participate, that we propose to unveil during this time, which I will talk about more during the webinar.
FST: We know that audits will be a topic of many questions. Is BRC planning changes to the way it does audits? What are some of audit-related topics you’ll be addressing in the webinar?
Kukoly: One of the changes I will be talking about is the auditor-competency program. Other topics will include expansion of our unannounced audit program. BRC is currently the leader in this area, and Wal-Mart has specifically asked us about this. We have done such audits in over 600 sites already, and are currently the go-to people for unannounced audits now. We are also forming BRC Global Markets, which will help small and less developed companies to get ready for certification.
FST: You will also be talking about the direction of BRC in 2015 and beyond? Is there a “theme” or specific set of business drivers that are driving future changes to BRC?
Kukoly: In my opinion, the two most critical areas of focus for the food industry right now are risk management and supplier management. These are the two main key elements being covered in all new regulations under development, and if a food facility has these covered, then they are in a good place. These are the two specific drivers that are shaping future changes to the BRC standard.
FST: While we all know that while change is important, it’s not always easy to get already-burdened food safety organizations to embrace change. What are some of the things we’ll learn in the webinar about why embracing change is critical to the ongoing success of BRC certification?
Kukoly: I don’t think ‘why’ should be the right question. We should focus on ‘HOW’ to go about this. And I think we need to talk about food safety culture and change management. These are the areas that are key to success and embracing change.
FST: We know that you’ll be providing advice on how companies can start today to prepare for tomorrow’s BRC. Can you tell us some of the topics you’ll be addressing in this part of the webinar?
Kukoly: One of the topics I will be addressing is training, not necessarily for BRC, but for obtaining the right skill sets such as risk assessment or HACCP. These are necessary for any food manufacturing organization to prepare for tomorrow’s BRC, and to have robust systems and processes in place.
FST: It has been said that GFSI certification is a very good start to preparing for FSMA compliance. What are some of the key points you’ll be addressing when it comes to FSMA compliance and alignment with BRC?
Kukoly: If you look at FSMA expectations, they are very well aligned with requirements of BRC standards, whether it be supplier management and verification requirements, or risk assessment etc. Beyond that, it is about strength of traceability procedures, knowledge of FSMA within the facility and its qualified individual. The focus is primarily on robust supplier management programs and implementation. If all these are in place, then you are in a very good starting place for FSMA compliance.