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Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS)

The Bord Bia Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme was developed in cooperation with milk producers, processors and regulatory authorities. It has been designed to assist in securing new and existing markets for dairy produce. The scheme requires that the farmer’s milk production processes are assessed to ensure that they meet the highest Bord Bia standards.  In addition the scheme has also been designed to assess and record sustainability data that can be used to demonstrate improvements at individual farm level, therefore providing the necessary proof to customers of dairy products that milk has been produced under both Sustainability and Quality Assurance criteria.

The Scheme is open to all dairy producers that are in compliance with the legislation relevant to dairy farming and milk production in the Member State in which they operate, the relevant laws of which are comparable or equivalent to those in Ireland.

The primary objectives of the Scheme are:

  • To demonstrate to milk processors and customers of dairy products that milk produced on certified farms meets the highest Bord Bia standards including those for animal welfare, traceability, environmental protection, and food safety.
  • To provide proof that milk produced on certified farms is produced under an ISO accredited sustainability and quality assurance scheme
  • To provide a uniform mechanism for recording and monitoring
  • To set out the criteria for best practice in dairy farming


The Producer

The scheme is open to all milk producers with a valid herd registration, supplying milk processors. To apply for membership the producer will complete an application form which can be returned to Bord Bia via their milk purchaser or directly to Bord Bia. The application will then be evaluated and, if appropriate, a full independent audit of the milk producer will be carried out to evaluate the capability of the applicant to meet all the requirements of the Standard. In applying for the scheme the producer agrees to provide all relevant information and where necessary, to give permission to the relevant body to release information by Bord Bia required to complete the certification process.  In Ireland these sources would include the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and from the milk purchaser.

At application the producer also consents to the results of the audit being available to the milk purchaser. When the producer is deemed to have complied with the requirements of the Standard, the herd will be considered for certification under the Scheme. When certified, the producer will be listed on the Bord Bia register/database. Before the certification expires, the producer will receive a reminder letter from Bord Bia advising that a further audit is required to maintain certification.


Audit Scoring and Outcomes

The information collected for sustainability purposes does not receive a score and does not affect whether or not the farm passes the audit. There are 170 auditable requirements in the standard. Of these, 7 are ‘Critical’ and must be maintained in place and complied with at all times. Of the remaining 163 ‘General’ requirements the auditor can give the following scores:

  • Compliance: There is full e with the criterion (e.g. the record is available, correctly completed and up to date) and the performance is rated as 2;
  • Minor non-compliance: The criterion is being met in some respects, but not in other respects (e.g. there is a record, but several entries are incorrect or missing) and the performance is rated as 1;
  • Major non-compliance: There is a complete failure to meet the criterion (e.g. there is no record of the activity) and the performance is rated as 0
  • Not applicable: the criterion does not apply on this farm (e.g. there is no out-wintering of dairy animals)
  • Audit score is calculated based on the SDAS Standard criteria that apply on each individual farm and expressed as a percentage of total score achievable.

For a farm to be eligible for certification it must:

  • Have full compliance for the Critical criteria and
  • Obtain a score of 60% or greater in the General criteria

The possible outcomes following completion of an audit are as follows:

A. No critical non-compliance and 100% score in general requirements
Farm recommended for certification

B. One or more critical non-compliance identified
Regardless of overall score this must be rectified within 48 hours and the auditor will re-visit to check.

C. Score over 60% but some major non-compliances
All major non-compliances must be addressed by submitting evidence on to the Bord Bia QA database. A maximum period of 1 month will be allowed for close out of the major non-compliances. The auditor will check this on the database and if acceptable will recommend certification. A re-audit will not be necessary.

D. Score over 60% but some minor non-compliances only
Producer gives an undertaking at the end of the audit to have the minor non-compliances addressed prior to the next audit and the farm is recommended for certification.

E. Score less than 60% with major and/or minor non-compliances
Producer must close out all the major non-compliances. The Producer must also close out sufficient of the minor non-compliances to achieve a minimum score of 60%. A maximum period of 2 months will be allowed for close out. A re-audit will be required to check that the required close-outs have been completed.

As illustrated above there are two scenarios where a re-audit will be necessary:
- Where there has been a critical non-compliance
- Where the score has been less than 60%.

QAS Scheme Members

Full details of Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme members.

Bord Bia Quality Mark Logo Use Policy

Download the Bord Bia Logo Use Policy for full detail on the conditions for the use of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance logos or click on the form link below to request logo use approval.