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SAFETY ADVISOR

Why UK farmers should care about Red Tractor

You have most likely heard of Red Tractor before, whether your agribusiness is within or outside of the United Kingdom (UK). Recognised by its distinct logo, representing the Red Tractor assurance scheme, certification is only available to British food and drink produce.

What does that mean?

To become Red Tractor Certified you must meet the schemes assured food standards. These standards cover the whole food supply chain from farm to fork, meaning your produce has been responsibly sourced, produced, transported, stored, and packed appropriately and you have followed the licensing rules. The scheme also covers crops and animals care and treatment. These standards can be applied throughout the differing sectors of the agricultural industry, including fruit and vegetables, poultry, dairy, beef and lamb, pork, and combinable crops. If your farm does not meet these standards, they cannot be Red Tractor Assured. 3,000 farms were suspended from the scheme in 2020 for failing to meet requirements.

Why should UK farmers care about Red Tractor?

As a world-leading food chain assurance scheme, Red Tractor is not-for-profit company that was formed by farmers and industry leaders back in 2000. Known as the champion of British food, Red Tractor is important to farmers in the UK as standards were developed to encapsulate best practice and legislation in key areas, animal welfare, food safety, traceability, and environmental protection.

Recognised by consumers across the UK, Red Tractor estimates that around 50,000 British farmers are accredited and roughly 60,000 checks occur every year across the supply chain thanks to 450 independent inspectors. As one of the most vigorous assurance schemes around the globe it’s no surprise that the major supermarkets in the UK are backing British. Tesco, ASDA, Waitrose and ALDI are just some of the retailers that incorporate Red Tractor standards into their sourcing and supplier specifications. Did you know that other schemes or programmes acknowledge Red Tractor’s credentials, which means members automatically achieve ‘earned recognition’?

Why become Red Tractor certified?

It isn’t just supermarkets that favour Red Tractor, many restaurants and takeaway providers (more than 2,000 food services) are making the move to trusted Red Tractor assured produce. Increasingly consumers are concerned with traceability and food safety. They want to know that the food they are purchasing is safely grown and locally sourced. As we discuss in Record Keeping for Compliance, becoming Red Tractor certified can provide you with the competitive advantage. It can broaden your business by providing potentially new customers, including the retailers mentioned above. Red Tractor states, “In 2021, 74% of shoppers that are aware of the Red Tractor logo say we are an independent source they can trust...”

As the Red Tractor logo clearly demonstrates to consumers that the food and drink, they are consuming was produced to a high standard across the entire supply chain, its important UK farmers understanding what is required to become certified, but also the benefit of that farm assurance.

How does the Red Tractor certification process work?

When you are applying for Red Tractor certification, you will be required to meet membership rules as well as the standards that apply to your sector. Each set of standards will have a selection of questions you must be able to answer to a satisfactory level as well as detailing how you will be assessed. If feel like you meet those standards, you will then need to contact a licensed certification body. These certification bodies are approved to carry out assessments on behalf of Red Tractor.

Your chosen Certification Body will manage your initial application, assessment and certification against the standards and your annual renewal. There are currently 5 certification bodies listed throughout the UK across multiple commodities.

Your initial assessment will involve either a remote or face to face audit on your property. Auditors will identify any areas of non-conformance; however, they cannot provide any guidance on corrective actions. When complete, you will receive a report providing you with further information on areas of non-conformance, an indication of the evidence you will be expected to provide and the timescales for action. If you have been notified of non-conformance, it then becomes your responsibility to address and supply evidence to your Certification Body you have corrected any issues.

Keep in mind, before being issued with a certificate of conformity, your Certification Body may need to revisit your property to confirm you have addressed issues to a satisfactory level. After evidence has been provided you will be labelled as Assured as well as a digital copy of your certification.

From November 1st, 2021, Red Tractor have made numerous changes to their standards across all sectors. As part of the new standards all farms with workers must have a written health and safety policy. For list of standards and evidence required for each, head to the Red Tractor website.

Topics: Record Keeping for Compliance

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Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to the United Kingdom. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.

Originally published 13 December, 2021.

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