A new era for game assurance

Aim to Sustain is now responsible for managing the Game Assurance Scheme. CLA Chief Legal Adviser Andrew Gillett sets out how this assurance will continue to support a thriving game market
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The Game Assurance Scheme has transferred to Aim to Sustain. The Aim to Sustain Game Assurance Scheme (previously the British Game Assurance (BGA) Game Assurance Scheme) will allow game farms, game shoots and estates to demonstrate publicly that they operate to the highest standards, independently verified by an accredited external auditor. It comprises eight partnership organisations with an interest in game management and shooting that are committed to high standards and self-regulation.

These standards include assessment of animal health and welfare, food quality, environmental enhancement and protection, appropriate stocking levels, staff training, and health and safety. The scheme guarantees the quality of game meat for consumers through the Aim to Sustain assurance stamp, so they know their game comes from an audited, high-quality source.

What is Aim to Sustain?

Aim to Sustain was created in 2021 in recognition of the various challenges that the shooting sector is facing. The CLA has been working closely with eight organisations: the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the British Game Assurance, the Countryside Alliance, the Game Farmers’ Association, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers Organisation, and Scottish Land & Estates, with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) as the scientific adviser over the last few years. The aim is to protect and promote sustainable shooting, biodiversity and the rural community.

Through its advocacy, self-regulation, scientific research and advisory work, Aim to Sustain promotes a game management and shooting sector that sustains rural communities and landscapes, addresses environmental challenges and delivers economic and social benefits while adhering to the highest standards.

What is assurance?

Assurance schemes allow food producers to demonstrate that their food products have been produced to the highest standards, independently verified by an external body. The Red Tractor is one widely known example.

Accredited scheme members are not marking their own homework. They will have shown that they meet a broad set of best practice standards applicable to their part of the game management and shooting sector, evidenced and inspected through a rigorous audit process. The audit partner is Intertek SAI Global - a renowned, highly experienced and accredited certification body. We will work with its trained and experienced team to continue to deliver audits to strengthen and secure the game industry.

Through BGA and now the Aim to Sustain Game Assurance Scheme, consumers and the public can be confident that the game meat has been produced to the highest standards, from breeding and rearing to the shoot.

Why is the game assurance scheme important?

The assurance scheme connects game farmers, estates and shoots, people who shoot, vendors and consumers in a chain from egg to plate. It guarantees the quality of game meat for consumers through the assured members stamp so they know their game comes from a high-quality source.

Assurance allows shoots, estates and game farms to provide evidence of their high welfare standards and promote safe food production and positive environmental effects. Now that the assurance scheme has been transferred to the Aim to Sustain partnership, the CLA will be able to amplify these positives across the game management and shooting community.

It demonstrates that the shooting sector is responsible and able to effectively self-regulate. Assurance helps raise the environmental and welfare standards across the game management and shooting sector. It is credible to the government and the public because assessments are carried out by independent accredited auditors, and builds consumer and business confidence in game produced on assured shoots.

The Aim to Sustain partners and the GWCT believe strongly in self-regulation to raise and maintain standards across the sector. By taking on the assurance scheme, everyone involved is committing to develop game assurance within the broader self-regulation and standards framework. The BGA will now focus on the marketing of game meat under the ‘Eat Wild’ brand.

By placing the assurance scheme at the centre of Aim to Sustain, all partners and the GWCT will have a role in self-regulation and promoting the assurance scheme throughout the game shooting community.

CLA Deputy President Gavin Lane says: “The Aim to Sustain Game Assurance Scheme is a vital next step in continuing to demonstrate effective self-regulation, and we encourage everyone involved in the sector to get behind it and be part of game assurance. With eight key organisations in this area all working together, this puts us in a much stronger position to promote its growth and ensure a sustainable future for shooting.

Game meat is a healthy, nutritious and sustainably produced option, and this scheme will help consumers and the public be confident that meat has been produced to the highest standards

CLA Deputy President Gavin Lane

“The assurance scheme will enable all those within the sector to demonstrate they are operating according to best practice, including demonstrating high welfare standards and food standards, together with positive environmental effects.”

Aim to Sustain Operations Director Spike Butcher says: “Everybody involved in Aim to Sustain appreciates the significant amount of work that BGA has put into developing the scheme, with an impressive reputation fostered in the sustainable game management sector. Having such a strong platform in place will give the scheme the best possible chance of succeeding under the new management of Aim to Sustain.

“All eight partner organisations and our scientific adviser, the GWCT, now have ‘skin in the game’. With investment in the scheme through commitment of time, effort and resource, the game shooting community will strengthen collaboration further to ensure that effective self-regulation is in place and visibly doing its job.”