04 Mar 2024

Tell AIC

01733 385230


You can contact the AIC Trade Assurance Helpline on 01733 385230 or use the form below to tell AIC if you become aware of activities of an AIC Trade Assurance participant that have the potential to affect:

  • Human or animal health through contamination or adulteration of the feed food chain 
  • Fertiliser safety or security
  • The integrity of the biofuels supply chain
  • Safety of seed treatment application 
  • Any other issue which has the potential to undermine the reputation of the Agri-supply sector 

All information provided will be treated in confidence.

AIC Trade Assurance Complaint Investigation Process

 1.  Objectives

To maintain the integrity of the AIC certification schemes, the AIC has a defined complaint process for reporting and investigation of:

  • Issues or concerns relating to certificated sites and companies which appear not to be maintaining the requirements of an AIC Scheme
  • Complaints against the performance of the certification body or an auditor
  • Complaints against the outcome of a specific audit

AIC wants to know when things seem to be going wrong, that way we can take action to solve any issues. Problems with the operation and implementation of the trade assurance schemes could represent a risk to feed/ food safety which could affect the whole industry.

2.  Ways to Contact AIC

  • Call the AIC on 01733 385230. A message may be left outside of office hours and we will call you back as soon as possible.

  • Complete the secure Tell AIC webform above
  •  Alternatively email [email protected] or write to Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), First Floor, Unit 4, The Forum, Minerva Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6FT

In order to investigate a complaint thoroughly we will normally require details of the person submitting the complaint (our investigation may raise additional questions we need to discuss) but they will not be disclosed unless requested by the person/ company submitting the complaint.
Details of the complaint and company/ site involved will not be disclosed to any other customers or users of the site concerned.

3. Receipt of complaints

Anyone with concerns regarding a company certified to an AIC scheme or the performance of the certification body or an auditor may contact AIC in confidence.

All sites will also receive a feedback invitation after their audit. Where appropriate, comments made on these responses will be followed up as complaints under this procedure.
Where sites believe that the certification body has not handled an appeal against raised non-conformances correctly, this may also be raised directly with AIC.

Where concerns are raised regarding a certified company or site the key information required to allow a meaningful investigation is:

  • Name and address of certified company/ site
  • Nature of the issue
  • The circumstances surrounding the issue and how you became aware of it
  • Whether these concerns should have been evident during a routine audit or whether practices of the site have since changed

The Tell AIC form is helpful in capturing and recording this information.

There must be sufficient information to allow a thorough investigation, where this is not the case, AIC will ask for further details. If sufficient detail is not available at the time, AIC will use the data as intelligence and collate with information from other sources which may help in future trending and/ or investigations. 

4. Investigation

Receipt of the complaint will be confirmed by the Scheme Technical Manager within 10 working days.
The nature of the complaint will be assessed by the Scheme Technical Manager and the action taken may include any combination of the following:

  • Notification to the certification body for investigation and reporting back to AIC.
  • Further action to be taken such as a short notice/ unannounced audit (on-site or remote) by the certification body and/ or a site visit by AIC)
  • Contact to the site via the certification body/ AIC to gain further information
  • Witness audit/ additional training of auditor

Note: Although every effort will be made to conclude the investigation promptly, complaints may take up to 90 days to resolve.

The investigation and response shall focus around the main areas:

  • Shortfalls in the audit process e.g. where this had failed to identify non-conformances in a participant’s operation to the scheme(s) and where appropriate the corrective actions taken to address this.
  • Concerns regarding the undertaking of the audit process by the auditor or certification body.
  • Action taken to review the certification status of the site concerned. This may be through documentation, discussion or a revisit (announced or unannounced as outlined with the relevant Standards protocols) as appropriate to the nature of the issues identified. 

The site will:

  • Be informed that a complaint has been made regarding their certification and they shall be made aware of the complaint procedure. They will not be informed of the source of the complaint.
  • Be made aware of the appeals procedure

Note: Any decision for action e.g. suspension or withdrawal of the certificate will be based only on the findings from the investigation by the certification body and AIC and not directly from the complaint.

Where a non-conformance is found as a result of the complaint, the Participant will be notified in writing of the non-conformity and the timescale in which the non-conformance must be rectified.  Documented evidence must be provided by the Participant detailing the corrective action taken to the Certification Body.  Depending upon the severity of the non-conformance this can result in the Participant being suspended from the scheme.  

5. Conflict of Interest

The complaint will be overseen by an AIC Technical Manager who is independent of the complainant, and the subject of the complaint be that a certification body action/ decision or a scheme participant. The investigation will be carried out by the certification body according to the requirements of their ISO 17065 accreditation, ensuring confidentiality, impartiality and freedom from conflicts of interest.

6. Follow up once a complaint is concluded

The AIC will review the results of all investigations and where necessary discuss further any issues arising. Where further clarification of the original issues raised are needed the AIC will discuss these with all relevant parties.

Notification of the completion of the investigation will be provided to the complainant. Where the complaint related to the actions of decisions of the Certification Body a summary of the investigation report and action taken by AIC and the certification body will be provided by AIC to the person originally submitting the complaint. Due to issues of confidentiality, the outcome of investigations into complaints made against a scheme participant cannot be shared with the complainant.

The AIC shall review all of the information provided and make a judgement on whether the complaint indicates a fault with the certification body. Where the original complaint information provided was insufficient to enable proper investigation the certification body will be notified of the issue but no conclusion can be made on the validity of the complaint.

Where the investigation determines that there is fault with the certification body involved, the AIC will make their accreditation body aware of the faults in the certification body’s performance to enable further follow up as necessary by the accreditation body.

The AIC will maintain a log of all complaints and their outcome. Where required by legislation, AIC will share the complaints log with the relevant authorities.

A summary report of the number of complaints received and their outcome will be provided for discussion at the relevant meetings such as the Feed & Food Assurance Steering Group, The FIAS Steering Group and the scheme working groups. Details of the individual complaints, person referring the issue and certification body concerned will not be disclosed.

A  summary report of complaints in relation to the Renewable Energy Directive is submitted to the Commission in the annual activity report. If requested by the Commission or a Member State AIC will provide all documents related to complaint/s and its handling.

7. Confidentiality of Information

Information relating to complaints remain strictly confidential except as identified in this procedure.  Complaints are managed by the AIC Scheme Manager and if necessary, investigated by the Certification Body.  Persons reporting complaints may remain anonymous, are free from retaliation and can request to be updated and contacted further during the complaint investigation.

Whistleblowing legislation

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects people who 'blow the whistle' about wrongdoing. You’re protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • a criminal offence, for example fraud
  • someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • risk or actual damage to the environment
  • a miscarriage of justice
  • the company is breaking the law, for example does not have the right insurance
  • you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

EU equivalent legislation can be found via this link:
Directive – 2019/1937 – EN – eu whistleblowing directive – EUR-Lex (europa.eu)

What happens after a complaint is received via Tell AIC

  • The AIC Scheme Technical Manager will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within ten working days of the complaint being made.
  • The complaint will be managed by the relevant Scheme Technical Manager and action taken as detailed above in Section 4 ‘Investigation’.
  • You may be contacted for further information in relation to the complaint during the investigation process.
  • AIC aims to provide an update on the complaint within 30 days.

As part of the investigation process information may be requested from various sources for example; certification bodies, AIC Members and Participants and stakeholders.  AIC may also contact the competent authority to fully investigate the complaint.

Documentation provided to the AIC during the investigation e.g. audit report will not be provided to any other persons unless prior permission has been given by the documentation owner.

The AIC will maintain files relating to the complaint process as confidential files. 

Tell AIC

Tell AIC Helpline

AIC Trade Assurance Complaint Form

Your details
Details of Referral/Complaint