Agency commissioning evaluation of assurance schemes
Friday 3 September 2010
The Agency is commissioning an evaluation and comparison of third party assurance schemes that focus on food and feed hygiene and standards.
UK food assurance schemes are arrangements through which primary producers, food processors and other food businesses can assure customers that particular standards have been maintained throughout the production process. Schemes are generally run as product certification schemes and use regular independent inspections to check that participants are meeting specific scheme standards. The emphasis varies between schemes but most commonly the standards cover food safety, animal health and welfare and environmental impact. In some cases consumer products carry a logo to indicate that the product has been produced according to these standards. Some examples include the Red Tractor, Lion eggs, SGC (Scottish Quality Crops), AIC (Agricultural Industries Confederation – feed scheme).
Assurance schemes can provide information that contributes to the determination of risk-based frequency inspection regimes and some can address official controls. Such schemes can be beneficial for both business and regulators, through reducing inspections of business and targeting regulators’ resources.
The evaluation should:
- identify current third party assurance schemes operating in the food sector in England
- establish criteria for acceptability of third party assurance schemes
- measure a number of assurance schemes against this criteria
The study should also aim to consider the outcomes of third party assurance schemes and to what extent compliance with food legislation is improved.