Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has signalled it is tightening its assurance scheme rules by introducing spot checks on farms that have failed to meet compliance standards in the past.
Meanwhile, the existing process – which sees spot checks carried out when concerns have been raised about a farm that is in the scheme – will also continue.
QMS chief executive Alan Clarke said the checks would allow the promotional body to “manage reputational risk and provide assurance to consumers as well as underpinning the ongoing credibility of our brands and assurance schemes”.
He also pointed out the changes were discussed and agreed by the committees that oversee the annual review process before they were incorporated into the standards.
“Although our quality assurance standards are predominantly used by scheme members and farm assessors, they are also publicly available to a wider audience including consumers and retailers,” added Mr Clarke.
“With reassurance about the way animals are looked after becoming ever more important to consumers, confidence in these standards is essential to underpin the integrity of our premium Scotch brands.”
The new standards, which will be posted to farmers in the coming days, also state all farms that are members of assurance schemes will be required to have an annual veterinary visit in future.
Other official requirements for the 10,000 livestock farmers who are members state the annual review of a farm’s Animal Health Plan health and performance records will have to be carried out in conjunction with a vet.
More than 90% of Scotland’s breeding cattle, around 80% of breeding sheep and almost 100% of significant pig farming businesses are members of QMS farm assurance schemes.
The standards are available to view online by visiting the QMS website.