Supporting your Journey to Certification
The START! programme has been developed to complement the Global Standard for Food Safety. As certification to the Standard continues to develop, it's important to provide opportunities to recognise and encourage the development of food safety systems in small sites where the full requirements of the Standard may not always be practical or add value, and in sites that are still developing food safety management systems.
The START! programme is aligned with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Global Markets programme. The START! programme will enable audits and certification against two levels of requirements: basic and intermediate.
The basic and intermediate level requirements of the START! programme provide recognised stepping stones towards eventual certification to the full Standard (if required). They also provide assurance to customers about the food safety systems operating at those supply sites that have gained certification at either of these two levels.
Working with Salsa
We are working in partnership with SALSA to support suppliers who have grown under the SALSA Scheme and are seeking to transition to the START! programme. This partnership provides a road map for those suppliers who have successfully grown as SMEs within the SALSA Scheme and want to develop their market opportunities by moving to the next stage using a structured approach to achieve full BRCGS certification.
Retailers such as Waitrose support START! as they see it as a learning and development roadmap for suppliers wanting to gain full BRCGS accreditation. Together with the SALSA Scheme, there is a clear and logical pathway of progression which supports the development of food safety standards within businesses as they grow.
Scope of the START! Programme
The START! programme sets out the requirements for the manufacture of processed foods and the preparation of primary products supplied as retailer-branded products, branded food products, and food or ingredients for use by food service companies, catering companies and food manufacturers.
The audit and certification will apply only to products that have been manufactured or prepared at the site where the audit has taken place, and will include storage facilities that are under the direct control of the production site management.
The programme does not apply to food products that do not undergo any process at the audited site, or to activities relating to wholesale, importation, distribution or storage outside the direct control of the company.
Benefits of the START! Programme
Adoption of the programme leads to a number of benefits to food businesses. The programme:
- is aligned with the GFSI Global Markets programme (the full Standard is GFSI-benchmarked);
- provides a clearly defined audit and certification process operated in accordance with the requirements of accreditation;
- uses auditors that meet the demanding competency requirements of BRCGS;
- enables companies achieving basic and intermediate levels to appear in the publicly available part of the BRCGS Directory, thereby recognising their achievements;
- uses requirements based on the Standard, enabling the basic and intermediate levels to provide effective stepping stones towards full certification (if required by customers); and
- requires completion of corrective actions on any non-conformities before certification at the basic or intermediate level is awarded, thus reducing the need for customers to follow up audit reports.