Red Tractor has suspended ‘physical’ inspections as a result of the coronavirus outbreak from today.
On-farm inspections will be replaced by remote inspections. The assurance scheme said it was ‘working with our certification bodies to determine what these will look like and the consequences for our members in each sector’.
However, quarterly vet visits for pig farms will go ahead, where producers and vets agree it is safe to do so.
In a statement, Red Tractor said: “As this health crisis deepens, we continue to review our policies daily to ensure that we have the right systems in place to protect the health of our members and their assessors, whilst protecting the integrity of the Scheme.
“This is an unprecedented time for UK farming and food production, but shoppers and customers are relying on farmers, food companies and the wider industry to provide the reassurance they expect from us.
“We continue to work closely with our certification bodies and from 00.01 Friday 20th March, we will be suspending all physical inspections in these schemes until further notice. “In making this decision Red Tractor has consulted with the Food Standards Agency and other enforcement bodies that we have earned recognition arrangements with and members can be reassured that these arrangements will be unaffected by the decision to suspend assessments.
“This includes earned recognition around dairy hygiene inspections as well as food and feed hygiene inspections carried out by Local Authorities.
“For pig members –where both the member and the vet mutually agree it is safe to do so, then Quarterly Vet visits can go ahead.
“In order to maintain certification to the Red Tractor scheme, there will be a requirement for the certification body to carry out a remote assessment- which is in accordance with UKAS requirements.
“We continue to work with our certification bodies to determine what these will look like and the consequences for our members in each sector.
“Certification bodies will confirm this to those members affected and we will provide more details on our website as soon as it is available.”
Red Tractor is urging any members who have questions or concerns about how this will affect their individual certification to contact your certification body, who will continue to manage your Red Tractor certification on their behalf.
Certification Body contacts:
- NSF Certification 07775575836
- SAI Global 01908 249973
- Lloyds Register 0131 335 6643
- NIFCC 028 9263 3017
- QWFC 01970 636688
New Red Tractor logo
The announcement comes, incidentally, on the day Red Tractor launches a new logo which aims to set out the credentials of the food it covers.
Red Tractor said the design reflects the work it has been undertaking over the past 20 years to help improve its status and emotional engagement with consumers.
The new logo retains the union flag to signify that the product has been grown, reared, processed and packed in the UK. The changes include ‘Red Tractor’ replacing Assured Food Standard, an updated tractor, now sitting on a ‘tick’ and the words ‘Certified Standards’ to clarify what Red Tractor does.