RLS Logistics received food safety certification through the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS), garnering the highest AA rating for at every one of its five cold storage facilities and for its distribution network.
BRCGS certification is an internationally recognized distinction awarded to companies in the food storage and distribution industries that meet BRC Standards of best practices for quality, hygiene, and product safety.
BRC is one of the most highly regarded certification programs recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). To attain certification, each facility operated by RLS Logistics underwent a third-party audit of everything from quality management and risk analysis to building standards and vehicle operations. "BRC is one of the most challenging certifications to earn. When you receive a certification from a renowned program like theirs, it supports client trust," remarked Jose Maldonado, Quality, Safety and Compliance Manager at RLS Logistics. "It means you're adhering to best practices, not just in the US, but across the globe—and that you're adhering to the same standards as the best companies around the world."
BRC awards certificate grades of AA (the best), A, B, C, or D depending on the number and type of nonconformities that the audit reveals. RLS Logistics earned the AA grade for its distribution network as well as its facilities in Delanco, NJ; Newfield, NJ, Vineland, NJ; Pittston, PA; and Salt Lake, UT.
Food Safety certifications are voluntary in some industries, and companies are allowed to choose their own certification body. As a result, many companies opt for one with less stringent audit standards. RLS's decision to take the hard road highlights the company's leadership in food safety.
"Customers recognize our commitment to food safety. Protecting their brand is a top priority," RLS Vice President of Business Development, John Gaudet explains. "BRC is a top tier accreditation organization, and our philosophy has always been to be a step ahead of the industry standard."
RLS's forward stance helped the company quickly implement government rules mandated to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "Being BRC certified definitely gave us a leg up. The system already audits for hygiene or GMPs, so we already had a procedure in place," Maldonado said. "All we did was add some contingencies to make sure we followed the elements that have been discovered during the COVID the outbreak. The big difference was in supplies in terms of PPE and sanitation, which we had to increase to assure our people's safety."
Certifications and outside audits play an important role in helping manufacturers protect the public and prevent a recall that damages brand and business. With the significant role third-party logistics providers play in food manufacturers' supply chains, companies now find themselves responsible for auditing their 3PL's operations as well. One of the significant benefits of BRC certification is that it saves companies the time and expense of auditing service providers.
For RLS clients, Maldonado says that BRC certification can turn what would otherwise be an involved process into a more passive process where customers review the confirming of the certificate, the audit report, and checking the corrective action completion. By sharing our audit results and corrective actions, it reduces our customers' needs for extensive onsite audits, resulting in less time spent onboarding new customers, Gaudet added.
Saving its customers' time took time. Although RLS Logistics has received varying grades of BRC certification for its facilities over the past 5 years, this is the first time the company has received AA grades across the board.
"It's a team effort. Everyone in the organization is committed to food safety; it starts with a commitment from leadership and cascades throughout every position in every business unit," Maldonado stated.