Raw materials and products are being procured via increasingly complex routes and from a wide variety of sources. Commercial agencies, brokers and import companies are indispensable as part of these global supply chains. An international quality standard has been developed specifically for them: the International Featured Standard (IFS) Broker. It is intended to guarantee the seamless safety of food, personal care and household products between manufacturers and retailers. The third edition of the standard is now in force.

There will be a transition phase until June 30, 2020, during which companies can have themselves certified either according to version 2 or version 3. From July 1, 2020, IFS broker audits will only be carried out according to version 3.

The new IFS Broker is much more extensive: Among other things, an additional fifth part describes the possibility of having audits carried out without prior notification. There are also numerous changes to the second part, i.e. the list of requirements: Almost half of the previous 84 requirements have been updated and 17 new ones added. There are still 8 knockout requirements, two of which have changed (Nos. 1.2.2 and 2.3.1).

Overview of the Important Changes

The so-called Product Safety Culture (PSC) has been newly included in the list of requirements. It is now specifically referred to by various requirements, with the focus being on awareness-raising, communication and continuous improvement.

Chapter 1.1 – Company Policy / Guidelines:

  • The management must commit itself to the PSC Quality Policy (Chapter 1.1.1).
  • The Quality Objectives have been included as a requirement (Chapter 1.1.2).

Chapter 1.2 – Company Structure:

  • The new knock-out requirement No. 1 is for the management to be responsible for the company policy and goals and to provide the necessary resources and investments (1.2.2 instead of 1.2.3 previously).
  • There is now an obligation to inform the certification body in the event of a product recall (within three working days) and in the event of a change to the company name or location (1.2.7).

Chapter 1.3 - Review by the Company Management:

In future, the management also has to take into account the PSC, the quality and product safety policy and their goals in its management review.

Chapter 2 – Quality and Product Safety Management System New order of the sub-chapters:

2.1 Documentation Requirements, 2.2 Control of Records and 2.3 Risk Management System. Chapters 2.1 and 2.2 are almost unchanged in terms of content.

Chapter 2.3 – Risk Management System:

  • The term "HACCP" (short for: "Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points") has been deleted from the chapter heading
  • Knock-out requirement No. 2 has been shortened (2.3.1) and partially included as a separate point 2.3.2. - Suppliers of the brokers must have a risk management system in place; food producers need an HACCP system in accordance with the Codex Alimentarius (2.3.2).
  • The requirements placed on the risk management system have been formulated in greater detail (2.3.3 to 2.3.9). For example, companies will have to nominate a team in the future, formulate descriptions of the brokerage services and products, draw up a flowchart of their brokerage activities and carry out a hazard analysis. Control measures and the associated applicable limiting values must also be defined and validated. The monitoring procedures must be defined and implemented, which also includes corrective measures and the consideration of non-compliant products. Regular checks of the system to ensure that it is up to date and its adaptation in the case of changes rounds off the amendments.

Chapter 3 – Resource Management:

In the future, the company is to create an overview of the training requirements of its employees based on the job descriptions (3.2). The training courses must be documented (3.3) and the contents checked and updated regularly (3.4.).

Chapter 4.3 – Product Development:

  • Here it has been specified that both products from the company’s own brands and from customers’ own brands shall be developed according to the principles of risk assessment, including food fraud. An HACCP System according to the Codex Alimentarius is required for food (4.3.1).
  • A further addition is the stipulation that the product requirements specified by the customer must be complied with (4.3.7) and product development records (which are relevant for product safety, legality and quality) must be available (4.3.8).

Chapter 4.4 - Purchasing:

  • The supplier management requirements now also apply to service providers (4.4.2 and 4.4.6).
  • The assessment criteria for supplier reliability and complaints have been supplemented with “incl. fraud” (4.4.3).
  • In the future, suppliers can also be certified according to a different standard than the IFS provided that it is recognised by the GFSI and covers the respective field of activity. The customer must expressly agree to exceptions (4.4.4).

Chapter 4.5 – Packaging:

It has been specified which type of packaging the requirements apply to: those of imported products, a company's own brands and the customers' own brands which may have an impact on the product.

Chapter 4.6 – Traceability (including GMOs and Allergens):

  • In the traceability test in both directions, the wording "from the broker's supplier to the customer (incl. logistics service providers and vice versa") has been added (4.6.2).
  • A new addition is the requirement that full traceability from the last processing step of the product to delivery to the customer must be guaranteed (4.6.3).

Chapter 4.7 – Reduction of Food Fraud A new chapter with five requirements is devoted to the topic of food fraud:

  • Competent persons in charge are to be nominated to provide the management with support (4.7.1).
  • In future, brokers will have to carry out and document a vulnerability analysis (“Vulnerability Assessment”) for all purchased products including packaging. On the basis of defined criteria, they shall identify risks such as the replacement, mislabelling, adulteration or imitation of the products (4.7.2).
  • On the basis of this vulnerability analysis, a plan is to be developed to combat food fraud and monitor the risks identified. Control and monitoring methods have to be defined and applied (4.7.3).
  • The vulnerability analysis must be reviewed at least once a year and in the case of important changes, and adjusted if necessary (4.7.4).
  • Brokers must ensure that their suppliers also carry out vulnerability analyses for food fraud and have a plan concerning how to manage the risks (4.7.5).

Chapter 4.8 – Logistical Work:

The requirement to include product quality assurance in service contracts has been supplemented by the clause "including product protection" (4.8.1). In the future, service providers can also be certified according to another standard recognised by GFSI for the respective field of activity instead of IFS Logistics (4.8.2).

Chapter 5.1 – Internal Audits:

The requirement to verify and document corrective measures is cancelled (5.1.5).

Chapter 5.3 – Product Blocking and Release:

The previous requirement has been split into two, but is essentially identical to the previous version.

Chapter 5.4 – Dealing with Objections/Complaints from Public Authorities and Customers Requirement:

5.4.2 has been re-formulated, but corresponds to the previous version.

Chapter 5.6 – Handling of Non-Compliant Products:

Instead of "defective products", the term "non-compliant products" is now used. The term "already packaged products or packaging materials" has been changed to "end products (including packaging)" and the sentence "exceptions have been agreed in writing with the contractual partner" to "written approval of the brand owner is available" (5.6.5).

Chapter 5.7 – Corrective Measures:

The so-called root-cause analysis for non-conformities (5.7.1) has now been included.

Chapter 6 – Product Protection Assessment:

The previous requirements now also apply to logistics service providers. Furthermore, suppliers and logistics service providers must have a product protection plan with which they can reduce the identified risks.

New: Part 5 – Unannounced Audits:

As with IFS Food, IFS Broker now has the option of an unannounced audit. The details are set out in the new Part 5 of the Standard -


  • The broker must notify the certification body of the audit before a certain time window (1.1).
  • The audit is carried out within a time window of 18 weeks. It starts 16 weeks before the due date (the anniversary of the initial audit) and ends two weeks thereafter (1.2).
  • During registration it is possible to specify blackout days during which the audit must not be carried out: a maximum of 10 days (divided into up to 3 sections) as well as additional days during which the business premises are not available for the audit (1.2).
  • A contact person must be named upon registration (1.3).
  • The unannounced audit will last as long as the announced audit (1.5). There is no audit schedule in advance; during the audit a draft is used and adjusted if necessary (1.6).

Implementation, Report and Certificate

On the day of the audit, the auditor will turn up unannounced at the reception desk and ask to see the contact person. After a brief consultation during which the aspects of the audit are agreed, the audit will start with the procedure being similar to an announced audit – the requirements of IFS Broker Standard Part 2 will be audited and evaluated. The report and the certificate will also be identical, although the "Unannounced" option will clearly be referred to in it.

Information on the standard can be downloaded here [Link: