BRCGS Grading System

Jul 28, 2021 editor

In 2019, the BRC (British Retail Consortium) rebranded as BRCGS (Brand Reputation through Compliance of Global Standards). Many retailers require BRCGS standards as a minimum – especially for wholesale food production, supply and distribution or storage. Red Box complete regular quarterly audits for some clients to establish whether suppliers and distributers have recent certification and make recommendations based on our findings. This provides reassurances to continue the supply relationship or to recommend improvements or supply halt. Unannounced audits are usually preferred by retailers as these provide a realistic insight into the standards applied within the suppliers business.

The BRCGS grading system is used throughout the whole supply chain, to reflect the food hygiene practices of each food business operator. The Standards are thorough and scrutinise every possible area where food safety could be compromised. The standards are Global Food Safety Initiative recognised and certified. The GFSI is a global scheme to benchmark food safety standards. If your business is already following a set of standards then transitioning to the BRCGS standards will be easier. However, this standard is more in depth than, for example, the SALSA Standards.

standards include;

  • Global Standard for Food Safety.
  • Global Standard for Packaging Materials.
  • Global Standard for Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing.
  • Global Standard for Storage and Distribution.
  • Global Standard for Consumer Products.
  • Global Standard for Agents and Brokers.
  • Global Standard for Retail.
  • Global Standard for the Gluten-Free Certification Program.

The main, full set of Standards can be accessed for free as a PDF download. However, additional documents such as The Interpretation Guidelines and Key Changes Document will need to be purchased and cost around £120.

A third-party certification body organisation, approved by the BRCGS will carry out the audit. A list of organisations can be found on The BRCGS Directory. A BRCGS audit is an assessment of a food manufacturer’s adherence to the BRCGS ‘Global Standard’.

The Standard that you choose and the one best suited to you will depend on your food business. Additional voluntary modules can be added to your audit to reduce the number of audits a food business operator needs to have for certification. For example, a gluten-free additional module. Additional modules are graded with a pass or a fail. Non-conformances of additional modules are not included in the grading of the ‘Global Standard’ assessment.

Types of Non-conformances

BRCGS audits are graded on the number and type of non-conformances. Non-conformances can be either minormajor or critical, defined in Issue 8 of the BRCGS Global Standards for Food Safety, section 2.3.1.

minor non-conformance is a small deviation from requirements or where a clause has not been fully met.

major non-conformance raises significant doubt as to the conformity of the product being supplied.

critical non-conformance is a direct food safety or legal issue.


The grading scale for BRCGS audits goes from AA as the highest to Uncertified in the order: AA, A, B, C, D, Uncertified. An unannounced audit will have a ‘+’ after the grade, for example, AA+.

The number and types of non-conformances will objectively determine the grading. The criteria for each grade are as followed:

  • An AA grade has no more than 5 minors.
  • An A is between 5 and 10 minors.
  • A B is given for an audit with 11 to 16 minors, or 1 major and up to 10 minors.
  • A C is given for an audit with 17 to 24 minors, or 1 major and up to 16 minors, or 2 majors and up to 10 minors.
  • A D is between 25 and 30 minors, or 1 major and up to 24 minors, or 2 majors and up to 16 minors.
  • An Uncertified grade is given if the audit has 1 or more critical, 31 or more minors, 1 major and 25 or more minors, 2 majors and 17 or more minors, or 3 or more majors.

The frequency of your next audit will then depend on the result you achieve. Non-conformances identified in the audit report are required to be addressed and corrected within 28 days of the audit.

The minimum BRCGS grade needed will depend on which retailer a manufacturer is supplying to. Improving your BRCGS grade may open doors to more retailers which were previously closed.

If you would be interested in discussing your supply chain with Red Box, we would be happy to offer a no obligation conversation on the services we can offer.