Standards Review 2017

Closed 18 Jan 2017

Opened 27 Oct 2016


Red Tractor Standards : Keeping pace with changing times

At Red Tractor we know that our standards must be kept up to date. With or without Brexit there will always be legal regulations and we cannot afford to fall behind, and new issues emerge in the minds of shoppers who buy our products. We therefore, review our farm standards every three years and are just launching proposals for the next update to come into effect next year.

The changes will provide positive re-assurance on some key issues. For the next few weeks we invite comments on the changes and we will consider all the responses before finalising the standards early next year.

Rodenticides and Environment Protection

Regulations came into force to seriously restrict the use of rodenticides because of concerns that their use was damaging wild bird populations. Under the regulations users must take further training or they will only be able to buy rodenticides intended for amateur and domestic use. Howevergovernment has accepted that Red Tractor members are responsible users and should not face these restrictions. We are adding some details to the standards to secure these benefits. 

Our crops standards have worked successfully with the Voluntary Initiative for many years to avoid pesticide residues on crops and pollution of the environment. We now propose to add simple environment protection measures to some livestock standards.


We all know that outbreaks of disease can be devastating so we are proposing some changes to make current policies on biosecurity even clearer, for example when using disinfectants. In the more intensive livestock sectors the focus will be more on access to the unit by people and visitors and their impact on biosecurity.

A key issue in recent Press headlines has been the question of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  Since Penicillin first came into use in the 1930s we have relied on antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine to treat a range of serious infectious disease. Now there is a major worry that the pathogens are rapidly getting resistant to them. Wild press reports that blame the entire problem on the use of antimicrobials in farming are clearly misguided, but we all have a part to play to ensure responsible use. RUMA the alliance for Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture co-ordinates the food supply chain on this topic and Red Tractor is a long standing supporter of RUMA. UK practice is already good but we will introduce some additions in line with the latest RUMA guidance.    

Fresh produce

Many crops such as salads and fruit can go from the field to table with no cooking or processing. If the crop is contaminated in the field or during harvest there will be nothing to prevent it causing illness when it’s eaten and fresh produce has been the cause of a number of big outbreaks of illness in North America and on mainland Europe. The track record of UK-grown produce has actually been very good but we have still taken the opportunity to propose some improvements in this area. We have drawn on information from the International ‘Codex’ fresh produce guidance. Closer to home the European Commission is just finalising its own guidance on microbiological risks in fresh produce and it is gratifying that they have used Red Tractor standards as the basis of some of their document. At the same time we have drawn some points from their draft which we believe will add further reassurance to the safety of Red Tractor salads.

David Clarke CEO

Red Tractor Assurance

Trust the tractor


  • Retailer
  • Farmer
  • Trade Association
  • Food Manufacturer
  • Government Body
  • Foodservice
  • NGO
  • Certificate Body


  • Beef and Lamb
  • Combinable Crops and Sugar Beet
  • Dairy
  • Fresh Produce
  • Pigs
  • Poultry