What is Red Tractor Certification all about.
The Red Tractor standard was originally launched in 2000 and has developed to become the UK’s best-known farm and food standards scheme, covering food safety, traceability and environmental protection. There are around 2,500 certified Fresh Producer growers which is approximately 75% of the known UK produce growers.
Increasingly consumers want to know that the food they are buying is safe and grown with the environment in mind. This only comes from knowing where the produce comes from and the standards to which it is produced. The Red Tractor standard certifies that food has been produced to independently inspected standards right across the food chain.
The Red Tractor Fresh Produce scheme covers an array of crops from root crops to salads and fruit. There is a set standard of questions for all crops, which covers crop health & protection, environmental aspects and worker health & safety, all contributing to food safety. Depending upon the crops you grow and activities you undertake, there are a maximum of 201 questions (although in practice a large number of these are likely to be not applicable). In addition, each crop may have a set of crop specific standards that producers are required to adhere to.
Why become Red Tractor Certified?
In a good year, you may be able to sell all the produce you grow direct to your existing customers, however, what happens if you produce more than you can sell, or an existing customer is no longer able to purchase from you. Red Tractor certification can open up doors to potential new customers including processors and retailers.
Increasingly new customers will require fresh produce growers to have some form of food safety certification. In the UK this will normally mean Red Tractor, although if you export, then GlobalG.A.P. certification may also be required (this can be bolted on to the Red Tractor certification process if required).
Most retailers will only pack fresh produce from growers who are certified to a recognised standard, and often this is also fed down into processed foods such as ready meals.
For any retailer or processor to put the Red Tractor logo onto fresh produce items, they have to be able to prove the provenance of the produce items. This will be tested by independent auditors who perform random checks on Red Tractor labelled items.
How to become certified?
To become certified, you will need to download a copy of the Red Tractor Fresh Produce standard, and any specific crop protocols (see links below).
Once you have read the standard and are comfortable that you can answer all the questions, then you will need to choose a certification body to register with. There are three certification bodies in the UK who can currently audit the Red Tractor Fresh Produce standard.
Initial information may be uploaded to the Red Tractor portal, before you have either a remote or physical audit to check specific points.
Following the audit, you will be issued with a list of any recommendations or non-conformances (hopefully not too many if any). Once these non-conformances have been closed out, then you will be issued with a certificate, and your details put onto the Red Tractor Checkers system.
Tyfu Cymru is working with industry consultants to build up an easy to use portfolio of documents that can be adapted to meet the needs of your business.
This approach takes the standard and looks at the questions the auditor will ask, and then works out the easiest way for a grower to show compliance. As everything is based around the standard and your business it should be a way to a stress-free audit.
By using documents that has already been tried and tested by other growers to successfully pass audits, it offers you an easier way to comply with the increasing demands of the Red Tractor Fresh Produce Standard.
Want more benefits?
Whilst Red Tractor may be seen as a cost, there are several other benefits that may help promote it.
- Engage customers to promote safe and sustainable farming standards within the UK.
- Red Tractor growers have access to the FERA Liaison pesticide approval database website.
- Growers can claim BASIS points for attending a Red Tractor audit (current 6 points per year).
- Red Tractor is one of the base line standards that is required for a grower to go down LEAF Marque certification.
- Growers who need GlobalG.A.P. certification can easily get this at the same time as the Red Tractor audit.
- Having certification, may remove the need for completing supplier questionnaires.
Fresh Produce Standard
Crop Specific Protocols