4 May, 2020

RTRS Certification during COVID-19 pandemic

Surveillance audits and re-certification audits will be conducted remotely.


Given the current global context and the recommendations and measures of government authorities and local and international agencies, the Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS) revised its accreditation and certification system and developed the RTRS Guidelines for Desktop Audits Version 1.0  intended to provide a temporary alternative, viable and reliable verification process that continues to facilitate conditions for responsible soy production, trading and consumption.

The desktop verification process allows verification of 100% of the indicators of the Production and Chain of Custody Standards and will only be used in surveillance or recertification audits, which means it only applies to producers who have been previously RTRS certified. Desktop audits shall not apply to Initial audits and transfer of certifications.

This temporary audit procedure has been basically established to check RTRS certification credibility, assurance level and verification process.

In order to evaluate and verify compliance with RTRS standards indicators, Certification Bodies may use other alternative methods to collect information, namely:

  • Interviews with direct and indirect workers through phone or videoconference
  • Videos and photos of different areas of the farm delivered to the auditor (storage facilities, fields, signposts, etc.)
  • Affidavits signed by the producers confirming compliance of all the indicators, which would normally be reviewed during  the on-site visit, and which were verified through other alternative means.

The public audit reports shall include a description of the audit methodology used, whether on-site or desktop audit. In the latter case, a justification of the reasons will be required. In this sense, RTRS will only consider valid the following reasons to perform desktop audits:

  •  The government has established a quarantine or other measures regarding social distancing that hinder the Certification Bodies from visiting the relevant facility.
  • The government has established travel restrictions that hinder the Certification Bodies from traveling to the relevant facility; and/or
  • The farm has not yet been opened to external visitors.

It is important to note that RTRS offers desktop audits just as an alternative and temporary tool and solution for the current COVID-19 pandemia, basically to safeguard the health and well-being of all the players involved in the audit process, and at the same time to facilitate responsible soy production, trading and consumption and adapt to the requirements of this contingency in regard to demand in the soybean sector.

Click here to access to RTRS Guidelines for Desktop Audits V.1.0

For questions on this new desktop verification procedures please contact RTRS Technical Unit team at [email protected]

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