EU Food Assurance Policy
The EU has its own agricultural product quality policy and whilst EU law lays down strict requirements guaranteeing the standards of all European products (see our welfare legislation page) EU quality schemes identify products and foodstuffs farmed and produced to exacting specifications.
EU schemes operate in the market alongside an increasing number of public and private certification schemes within various EU member states.
UK Food Assurance Schemes
Food Assurance Schemes are generally run as product certification schemes that are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). These schemes use regular independent inspections to check that members are meeting specific standards and often use logos on consumer products to indicate this fulfilment. To find out more in-depth information about these schemes please visit the Food Standards Agency on food certification and assurance schemes.
Leading food assurance schemes aim to define the standards that most producers in the sector should meet. Over time, these schemes intend to raise standards to improve the overall standard of the whole sector. The Red Tractor relates to standards expected on pig farms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland pig farm assurance is provided by SPII (Scottish Pig Industry Initiative) under the control of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Vets have a key role to play in informing the public about where their food comes from and how farm assurance schemes help to safeguard animal health and welfare. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) have produced useful guidelines to help consumers navigate the various UK farm assurance schemes.