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Covid-19: Farm inspections put on hold

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ASSURANCE SCHEMES have cancelled physical inspections on poultry farms following government advice.

Both the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) and Red Tractor have suspended normal audits and inspections of egg farms, packing centres and broiler units.

See also: Covid-19 presents processing labour challenge

Red Tractor said that, from 20 March, all physical site inspections had stopped, following consultation with the Food Standards Authority.

And the BEIC said physical audits of Lion-registered sites would cease “with immediate effect”.

‘Confirm good health’

It said the only physical audits that to take place will be those on newly registered laying sites. “The conditions attached to this are agreement from the site, the subscriber and the auditor.

“Both the site and auditor would need to confirm good health with a risk assessment agreed by both parties,” a statement said.

Red Tractor and the BEIC said they were working on ways to introduce remote assessments for farms, and that more details would be provided as policies were developed.

‘Unprecedented time’

Red Tractor chief executive Jim Moseley said: “This is an unprecedented time for UK farming and food production, but shoppers and customers are relying on farmers, food companies and the wider industry to provide the reassurance they expect from us.

“From Friday 20 March all physical farm inspections have been suspended until further notice.

“In making this decision, Red Tractor has consulted with the Food Standards Agency and other enforcement bodies that we have earned recognition arrangements with and members can be reassured that these arrangements will be unaffected by the decision to suspend assessments.”