ML3 Technical Blog

Food safety news and guidance
3 minutes reading time (510 words)

Red Tractor Certification Scheme


Many fresh produce growers will be certified to the Red Tractor Fresh Produce certification scheme. This has recently been updated with Audits from the 1st October, taking place against the new standard (Version 4).

So what's the history behind the standard and what is new in the latest version.

During the early 90's, British food was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons with a number of high profile food scares. This undermined customer trust and as a result several Farm Assurance Schemes were introduced to try and rebuild trust but due to the number of them, they confused customers.

Therefore in 2000, the 'British Farm Standard' which is now known as the little Red Tractor was launched.

The Red Tractor is made up from several business organisations including the NFU, BRC, AHDB and FDF amongst other. These experts from the farming and food industry, put together several standards that traced food back to its original source and ensured all stages of the food chain abided by the safe food rules. One of these was the Fresh Produce standard that covered fruit and vegetables.

In 2005 the logo was changed to incorporate the Union Jack to reinforce the origin of the food. Only UK grown produce can legally use the Red Tractor logo (although in a product it can be less than 65% depending upon how it is labelled).

The latest version of the fresh produce standard has been updated to reflect various retailer's requirements and to align it more to GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. is a GFSI standard, which in simple terms brings together key retailers, manufacturers and food service operator to collaboratively drive continuous improvement in food safety management systems around the world.

There are 27 new, 72 revised and 4 upgraded clauses to the previous version. A lot of these new requirements are focused around food safety, microbiological standards and the consideration of threats or malicious contamination.

Examples of the new clauses are:

  • The Risk Assessment must be performed by suitably trained staff with a wide knowledge to ensure all aspects of the process have been thoroughly assessed – have you been trained specifically in HACCP?
  • The threat and potential of malicious contamination is fully considered within the Risk Assessment – what does this mean to a grower whose produce is grown in an open field with the potential for footpaths going through it?
  • Water used post-harvest for final product washing/ in direct contact with the product (including ice) must be deemed acceptable by the Water Matrix and Risk Assessment and is stored in a clean container – do you know what water you use and have you followed the new water matrix?
  • Maintenance records and procedures must be kept for food contact equipment and machinery – where do you start to record this?

It is difficult for a grower to be an expert in food safety as well as all the other hats they must wear. ML3 has written many documents that can be adapted to the individual grower's own crop or process.

Please contact us to help with your documentation requirements.

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Sunday, 08 December 2019
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