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11 February 2022
SAOS’s new Food Integrity Assurance (FIA) business has the foundations in place in preparation for delivery of the QMS Assurance Schemes contract from April 1st.
FIA is part of the SAOS ‘stable’ and, as with the ScotEID livestock traceability system established with industry and Government in 2008, it will run entirely autonomously, with its own Board, management team and independent accreditation through UKAS.
FIA’s Board of Directors will be chaired by ‘Uel Morton, who has extensive knowledge of the farming and food sector, and an innate understanding of the vital role farm assurance has in underpinning Scottish brands. He is joined by arable farmer, Anne Rae MacDonald; Dunbia's Business Public Relations Director (UK), Isla Roebuck; Food Standards Scotland Deputy Chair, Louise Welsh; and assurance and accreditation specialist, Steve Belton. Completing the Board are dairy farmer and SAOS Vice Chair, Rory Christie; and SAOS Chief Executive, Tim Bailey.
FIA will be managed by Stephen Sanderson. A former farm manager, Stephen gained experience of dairy, beef, sheep and cereal farming, before moving into quality assurance and certification as a farm assessor, then progressing to operational and technical management roles across a range of agricultural schemes and standards, including QMS, SQC and Red Tractor Dairy.
FIA has successfully recruited key operational staff who have already commenced work. All have significant experience of delivering QMS and other quality assurance schemes. They will be supported by a team of more than 50 farm assessors and processing auditors, based throughout Scotland, who will undertake QMS work with FIA from April.
FIA’s key priorities are to deliver a farmer-focused service, enabling good communication links with office and assessment teams; and to work with QMS and other partners, across multiple sectors, to increase the practical assessment on-farm and use of technology to minimise ‘paperwork burden’. In addition, FIA will ensure that where farmers are certified to more than one scheme, for example QMS and SQC, or QMS and Red Tractor Dairy, they will continue to benefit from one joint assessment.
FIA is progressing plans to achieve ISO 17065 accreditation for the QMS schemes. This involves independent auditing by UKAS to ensure that the assurance schemes are being managed consistently, impartially and with experienced and proficient teams.