Freshcare food safety & quality (part 2)

Written by   Clare Hamilton-Bate

Freshcare benchmarking to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

(continued from last issue)
A key driver in Freshcares’ move to accredited certification is the retailer driven requirement for Freshcare to be benchmarked to the Global Food Safety Initiative.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), provides an international ‘benchmark model’ against which other standards can be assessed.
The GFSI process enables customers to accept fresh produce from suppliers with any food safety system that is recognised as equivalent to GFSI—knowing that an agreed standard of compliance will have been achieved.
Already in Australia, GFSI benchmarked systems are required for direct supply to both Costco and ALDI. This requirement is likely to extend to all major customer groups, initially for direct supply, but ultimately for indirect supply from farm level—so Freshcare needs to be prepared.
Now an accredited certification, Freshcare has achieved the first step on the path to GFSI benchmark status; the next step is to submit a draft benchmark document to GFSI for review.
However, the full benchmark cannot be submitted until early 2018, when Freshcare has operated as an accredited certification for 12 months.
Freshcare Standards—new editions
In June 2016, Freshcare launched the fourth edition of its Food Safety and Quality Standard (FSQ4), and the third edition of the Freshcare Environmental Standard (ENV3).
The new standards are more practical and streamlined, have a better structural alignment and have improved access to guidance material. All Freshcare audits from 1 Jan 2017 are against the new edition standards.
Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS)—the driver for change
One of the most commonly heard criticisms of quality assurance in the fresh produce sector is the duplication of systems or standards that an individual business may face when supplying more than one major customer.
Whilst the systems/standards may be almost identical in content, the fact that no one system is accepted by all customers usually results in extended audit time, extended reporting time and more cost.
Certification bodies try to equip their auditors to deal with this duplication, but for large producers, supplying several of the major retail chains and/or food service providers, the duplication in compliance is often a costly, time consuming nightmare.
It’s not uncommon for a business to have to demonstrate compliance to five separate, yet similar standards.
The ‘QA Harmonisation’ project funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) was undertaken to try and address this issue in the fresh produce sector.
(continued next month)

See this article in Tree Fruit April 2017


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