With just under 3 months before publication of the BRC Global Standards Storage & Distribution Standard Issue 4, on 1/11/2020, we take a look at some of the most important upcoming changes.

The BRC Global Standards Storage and Distribution Standard has long been a means to prove due diligence in food and product safety management. It has become increasingly recognised by the supply chain up to and including the retailers, with a year on year 18% uptake. The new standard, BRC Global Standards Storage & Distribution Standard Issue 4, will apply to all audits from 1/5/2021, allowing the normal 6 month transition period to perform gap analysis and implement or amend systems to ensure compliance. You can register your interest at the BRC Global Standards site here.

Unannounced audits

One of the key changes, in keeping with developments in the other BRC Global Standards Standards, is the implementation of unannounced audits. Introduced by the GFSI benchmarking requirements, this means that one in every three audits must be unannounced. This starts in February 2021 for all BRC Global Standards Standards and so fits neatly with Issue 4 of the Storage & Distribution Standard going “live” on 1st May 2021.

Product Safety Culture

With the need for a food safety culture plan first introduced in the BRC Global Standards Food Safety Standard, the principle has now been applied to other standards. It is effective in the BRC Global Standards Packaging Standard from 1st February 2021, and introduced now in the BRC Global Standards Storage & Distribution Standard. Like those plans now drawn up within BRC Global Standards Food Safety Standard certified sites, the product safety culture clause will rely on an analysis of current product safety “ethos”. This analysis will reflect the ethos applied from top management right down to “pick face”. Derived from that analysis there must be a strategic plan to identify and effect improvement – that need not be an annual plan, for instance instead being a 5 year strategic plan. Given the freshness overall of the product safety culture concept, BRC Global Standards has decided that effectiveness of the culture plan will only be assessed from the 2nd Issue 4 audit at any participating site. Bear in mind though, that assessing culture (analysing the ethos) should be conducted, in readiness for implementation of a culture plan so that it can be effectively assessed, at the 2nd Issue 4 audit. This means, in plain language, don’t delay! We advise to start thinking about this from the moment your e-copy or hard copy of Issue 4 lands at your door!

Internal audits

Not much changes – there has always been a need for an effective internal audit plan, but Issue 4 of the BRC Global Standards Storage and Distribution Standard now requires at least two internal audit dates per year. Struggling to manage your internal audits? Do speak to us about internal audit training or if you’d like us to conduct regular, or pre-audit internal audits for you

Open product handling

The scope of issue 3 always allowed limited open product handling (such as the limited, simple, packing of fruit or vegetable items from open trays). This has been extracted into a brand new section, Section 9, with requirements stipulated for staff facilities to manage food handler hygiene, fabrication of exposed product areas, maintenance, housekeeping and protective clothing. All implemented to enhance open product safety.

Cross Docking

A new module is in place which enhances management of cross dock facilities and ensures contractual control


Some might say (with the massive growth in internet shopping and supply of goods) hooray! A module is in now in place to define controls to manage the product safety of e-commerce products, but only applicable to companies that have the storage facility and e-commerce unit under the own control, and as long as the products fall within scope of standard.

Help with gap analysis and implementation

It goes without saying that, as we have helped prepare Storage and Distribution companies for certification over a number of years, help is available from us! Click here or call us! We’d love to talk!

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