With on-site, face-to-face audits suspended due to travel restrictions and social distancing, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Red Tractor and Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) will all be working closely with LRQA to deliver the remote audits, following successful on-farm pilots undertaken in recent weeks. The move will maintain the integrity of the standards and ensure members are adhering to best practice.
QMS is the world’s longest standing farm assurance programme. Initiated 25 years ago, it is one of the few standards covering whole life assurance, from farm to fork.
Katheryn Kerr, Head of Brands and Integrity at QMS said: “Following the suspension of all face-to-face assessments of its quality assurance schemes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, QMS in conjunction with LRQA, has developed a new remote assessment tool. The remote assessments ensure that members’ certification continues seamlessly in these exceptional circumstances and provide a workable solution which continues to underpin our world-class standards.”
One of the world’s largest food assurance standards – and one of the UK’s most recognisable consumer labels – Red Tractor covers dairy, livestock, crops and fresh produce.
Jim Moseley CEO of Red Tractor said: “Whilst some farmers may be daunted at the prospect of a remote assessment, those that have trialled the approach see huge benefits, and many believe this could herald another approach to auditing long after the impact of COVID-19.”
Working exclusively with LRQA, SQC is one of Europe’s leading standard for crop quality and traceability.
Alistair Ewan, Executive Director at SQC said: “At SQC, we have always looked to innovate and adapt as we move forward. We see LRQA's remote audit development as a significant alternative tool in the farm audit toolbox. Many SQC Scheme Members will be keen to embrace this technology as it will be utilised to manage farm time as required. On-farm site visits will not be completely removed but with the use of virtual audits these visits can be reduced and managed more efficiently.”
Stephen Sanderson, Head of Agriculture at LRQA added: “We are delighted that these world-leading farm standards have adopted this proven technology to ensure robust audits can still be undertaken at these difficult times. Supply chain integrity, product quality and animal welfare have not reduced in importance and it is vital we continue to ensure brands are protected and expectations are met.”
LRQA continue to offer remote assurance services to retailers and manufacturers looking to maintain supply chain integrity during COVID-19.