BGA FAQs and Audit FAQs
What is the British Game Alliance?
- The British Game Alliance (BGA) is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to provide credible self regulation through a third party auditing scheme and promote game across all sectors as a national marketing board.
- The BGA has the support and backing of all shooting organisations as well as DEFRA and the FSA.
What are the BGA’s objectives?
BGA has two main objectives:
- To implement credible self-regulation across the shooting industry to ensure we abide by “best practice”; offering us political and social security, as well as a sustainable future.
- With an assured product, the BGA aims to increase demand and return a value back to game at a shoot level.
Is the BGA another competing shooting organisation?
- No, the BGA is an assurance scheme which has the support and backing of all shooting organisations unifying them under a common purpose.
Why do we need the British Game Alliance?
- The BGA is the only organisation tackling the ever-increasing issue of oversupply of game on to the market as well as implementing credible self-regulation.
- To avoid government intervention and subsequently shooting being heavily restricted we must ensure best practise and high welfare is at the forefront of every shoot in the UK.
How does the BGA aim to grow the market for game?
- By providing full traceability through the assurance scheme from egg to plate therefore ensuring confidence for the consumer.
- With a dedicated marketing team leading the way, opening up new markets for game in the UK and overseas on behalf of the shooting community. The BGA is working with key household names to develop game products to make game mainstream.
- The BGA is running its consumer-facing marketing campaign, Eat Wild, to engage the British Public with game like never before. Utilising celebrity chefs, and influencers in sectors such as the health, fitness and sports worlds to help drive the message of eating game as a healthy alternative.
How are you addressing the issue of lead in game?
- Leading game processors are able to scan game meat for lead shot and subsequently remove it.
- We are taking this issue very seriously as it has been a sticking point for the game market in the past and we fully support the industry’s voluntary 5 year phase out plan.
- The EU is currently looking at banning the importation of lead shot game within the next few years, therefore, making it vital that we do not lose this avenue for our game as currently, 60% of our game goes to Europe.
How does the BGA ensure that its standards are being adhered to?
- Our members are audited by Lloyds Register, an independent auditing body, against the BGA standards.
- Any non-conformances found must be rectified within 30 days of the audit having taken place. If they are not submitted with the timeframe allocated, the BGA member will be removed from the Scheme.
- Any credible complaints are investigated within 48 hours and where a shoot is found to be in serious breach of our standards they will be removed from the Scheme.
- A select number of spot audits will take place each year.
- For more questions on the BGA’s audit process please refer to our Audit FAQs below.
How is the BGA financed?
- The BGA has three lines of primary income:
- Membership fees from shoots
- Voluntary 50p donation paid by guns
- A number of commercial partnerships from within the shooting industry
- We also have an income stream from individual donations and fundraising events.
How much does membership cost?
- Membership is worked out on your annual bag:
- 0 - 1,000 £100 + VAT
- 1,000 - 3,000 £250 + VAT
- 3,000 - 10,000 £500 + VAT
- 10,000 + £1,000 + VAT
- This can be paid as an annual subscription or by monthly direct debit.
Tell me more about the 50p donations?
- We ask our members who sell shoot days to put a voluntary 50p per bird donation onto their invoices. This way guns can also contribute to the work that the BGA does.
- This is entirely voluntary for both shoots and guns to participate, it is, however, a very important revenue stream for the BGA.
- If guns were to choose not to pay the 50p donation then you are in no way, as a shoot, obligated to cover the donation yourselves.
Who’s involved with the BGA?
- The BGA has a highly regarded Board of Directors bringing a wealth of knowledge to the forefront of the organisation.
- These Directors have all given their time pro-bono (free).
- In the future, they hope to hand their roles over to a Management Committee.
- The Advisory Committee is made up of the major shooting organisations and regional shoot representatives.
- Any changes to the standards along with other major decisions has to be signed off by the Advisory Committee.
Where does my money get spent?
- The biggest expenditures for the BGA is the shoot audit process, marketing of game and running of the office.
- The BGA has a budget set out by the Board, led by the Director of Finance ensuring all money is appropriately managed; any expenditure over £5,000 has to be signed off by at least 5 members of the board.
Is the BGA just for big commercial shoots?
- Absolutely not. The BGA represents all shoots of all sizes, self-regulation is something that should be embraced by all to ensure Government intervention isn’t necessary.
- All shoots rely on a strong and prosperous game market; we need all shoots to help contribute to dealing with the issues we face to ensure we have a sustainable future for all.
Are big bags the issue?
- Bag sizes have increased across all sized shoots. The largest of this has been within the mid-tier shoots, increasing their numbers by 50-100% to try and deal with the rising prices of running their operation. Although on an individual basis this may only be 50-100 extra birds a day being shot, this number across hundreds, if not thousands, of shoots creates a huge amount of volume. This is an issue that faces all of us, big or small.
I am a small shoot and all my game is used by myself and the team; why should I join the BGA?
- Very good question, it is good that your game is being used and we certainly support that. Self-regulation of the industry is something that needs to be embraced by all shoots. Being able to stand up and show that you abide by best practice and that you are open about your operation is one the strongest defences we have. The more shoots that can do this the stronger the defence is.
- Everyone has a vested interest in the game market, regardless of where their game goes and if it were to collapse then everyone would lose.
I use a non-BGA game dealer, will I have to switch game dealer?
- No, but we would actively encourage you to ask your game dealer to join the BGA, however, if you wish to change that is something we can help facilitate.
I am a Scottish Shoot and the BGA is based in England; is it still applicable for me?
- Absolutely, we are very much a British organisation and we have many members in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Scottish shoots face far greater political pressure than elsewhere and therefore standards and best practice are even more important north of the border.
- We are aware that we are based down south and we continue to hold events to increase our presence in Scotland. We also work very closely with the SLA, the Scottish Moorland Group, SASCS, GWCT Scotland and the SGA.
What if I already abide by best practice?
- The BGA is a vehicle for all shoots to raise their standards if and where needed, and gives them the opportunity to stand up and be counted for doing the right thing.
- It is vital that we can prove to the wider public, government and the opposition that we are dealing with the issues we face “in house” and being held accountable for the way in which we run our operations.
- We are all in the same boat and no shoot will be exempt from scrutiny and outside intervention, something that we all want to avoid.
What has the BGA achieved to date? (Feb 2020)
- We have over 650 members
- Forecasted to contribute to the sale of well over 1 million head of game (20/21 season) with the following deals:
- One of the largest UK Food Manufacturers, Samworth Brothers have developed a new range of game products, using in excess of 350,000 head of game a year.
- Through Aramark, game will be served across the MOD in core meals to soldiers; accounting for over 120,000 head of game.
- 250,000 to Hong Kong via Sutherland Ltd.
- Other companies committed to using only BGA game:
- Caterers: Sodexo, Aramark, Delaware North and Compass Group.
- Food Service Distributors: Bid Food, Fairfax Meadow, Birtwistles and Brakes.
- Hotel Groups: MacDonald Hotels, Millennium Hotels and Resorts and the Marriot Hotel Group.
- Pub Groups: Cirrus Inns, Youngs, Drake and Morgan and Caledonian Heritable.
- Restaurants: Hawksmoor, Rovi (by Ottolenghi), Caprice Holdings, The Ned, Holborn Dining Rooms and Boodles.
- The above is not exhaustive but just a selection from the companies and brands currently working with the BGA.
Is the Government helping with the issues we face?
- Yes, we have a lot of support in Parliament with DEFRA and the FSA backing the BGA and offering their assistance in export and other legislation. Many senior MP’s are also publicly backing the BGA as seen in the open letter they signed.
BGA's Audit FAQs
Why do we need the BGA’s Assurance Scheme?
- The government made it very clear that the shooting industry had to self-regulate before regulation was imposed.
- The assurance scheme is the best way of demonstrating best practice to our stakeholders.
What is the purpose of the BGA’s Assurance Scheme?
- The Assurance Scheme is the process we use to ensure that our members are abiding by best practice.
- It is a vehicle to help raise and maintain standards.
- The Assurance Scheme creates an ‘assured product’ that we can market to the food industry.
What are the benefits of the scheme?
- Firstly, by taking part in the scheme, it proves that you and your operation abides in best practice and high animal welfare.
- It demonstrates to the shooting industry’s critics, the Government and non-government organisations that we are not only willing, but also able to self-regulate.
- Ultimately helping to protect shooting for future generations through accountability.
- Secondly, the BGA are able to market an ‘assured product’, previously a significant block in developing the market for game.
- We are confident that this will result in BGA members getting paid a premium as demand continues to increase for BGA assured game over non-assured.
- Lastly, as an accredited member you will be able to use our logo when marketing your shoot and game to promote yourselves.
Who are the assessors?
- The audit assessments are carried out by our independent assessors, employed by Acoura who are now part of Lloyd’s Register.
- This company also provides exactly the same function for the highly successful Red Tractor Farm Assurance Scheme, Wildlife Estates Scotland and Scottish Quality Wild Venison.
- The assessors themselves are further trained by GWCT and NGO to ensure that they have the necessary experience and knowledge that is required to fulfill the role.
How will I know when the assessment will be?
- Acoura will organise the assessment directly with you, through the contact details that you provide us, in order to find a suitable time to visit.
How long does the assessment take?
- The assessment will usually take between 2 and 4 hours, depending on the size of your shoot.
How often are the assessments?
- The assessments are conducted every 18 months.
How do I know what the assessors are looking for?
- The assessments are based upon our standards and so these are a good starting point in understanding what the assessors are looking for. They can be found on the website.
- You will also receive a pre-assessment checklist from your Acoura assessor prior to the visit; again, this can also be found on our website.
What are the most common non-compliances found during the assessment?
- Not registered with the Environmental Health Department or Local Authority as a food business.
- Not keeping medicine purchase and use records.
- Not recording the daily temperatures of the chiller when it’s in use.
- Incorrect disposal of game unfit for human consumption and processed carcasses.
- Incorrect fittings and fixings in the larder / chiller.
What happens if I fail the audit assessment and what is the follow up process?
- Don’t worry! The assessment process is a learning experience for everyone involved and 90% of our members fail their first audit.
- The process will be explained to you by the assessor at the beginning of the assessment but you will be given 30 days to rectify, or show that you are rectifying, any minor non-compliances (NCs).
- For major NCs, which are usually a gross-breach of animal welfare, is slightly different and will involve a suspension from the scheme while an investigation is conducted.
- A suspension will not be made public but the Advisory Board and processors will be informed if the major NC is confirmed.
Do I have to pay for the audit on top of my membership cost?
- Short answer - no. The cost of the audit visit is covered by your membership fee.
“From where I sit in Parliament I really feel shooting is in the last chance saloon. The BGA is about self-regulation and addressing some of the negatives that are thrown at us by our opponents and dealing with the current issues we face.
The BGA is a lifeline for all, yes all, who love our sport. Those of us who face up to shooting’s many opponents really see how vital it is for the BGA to succeed.”
The Rt Hon Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury
If you have any further queries, then please visit www.britishgamealliance.co.uk or call the office on 0203 727 5204.