Red Tractor has halted all physical inspections on farms, markets, collection centres, and haulier schemes. The Assurance scheme said it had made the decision in light of the rapidly advancing coronavirus outbreak, and government advice to avoid all unnecessary contact to minimise the spread of the disease. All inspections have been suspended from 20 March “until further notice”.
In a statement to members, 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.
“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.
“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.
“If members have any questions or concerns about how this will affect their individual certification, please contact your certification body who will continue to manage your Red Tractor certification on your behalf.”