Food Standards Australia New Zealand is calling for submissions on a report looking at the safety of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, tree nuts and edible flowers.
FSANZ Chief Executive Officer Steve McCutcheon said this work was part of a series of national food safety standards which apply throughout the food supply chain – from paddock to plate.
“Surveys show that the horticulture sector does a good job in managing food safety risks associated with fresh produce,” Mr McCutcheon said.
“The majority of fresh horticultural produce grown in Australia is produced under industry-based food safety schemes.
“However, food safety hazards can occur which can cause illness in the community and costs to industry.
“FSANZ is exploring if regulatory or additional non-regulatory measures are needed to manage these hazards in conjunction with existing schemes.”
Comments are invited from government agencies, industry and consumers on the Report.
The Report and all supporting documents can be found at:
The closing date for submissions is 21 May 2012.
Over 5,000 fresh produce businesses in Australia grow and pack their fruit and vegetables under the Food Safety and Quality requirements of the Freshcare On Farm Assurance Program.
The Freshcare Code of Practice clearly states that biosolids can not be used on farm.
"In reviewing the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Code prior to the release of the 3rd Edition in July 2009, we looked in depth at the use of biosolids in Australia" explained Clare Hamilton-Bate, Freshcare's National Program Manager "The apparent variation in biosolid treatment protocols and also in the control of use, between States was a major issue for Freshcare. This was combined with concerns raised by our technical committee re. the potential for the transfer of human pathogens through biosolids. Resultingly our position is clear, biosolids can not be used by Freshcare growers".
The use of animal manures and other organic fertilisers is also strictly controlled under Freshcare, to manage any potential sources of food safety risk.
Freshcare requires that all member businesses complete approved food safety training prior to implementing the Freshcare Program on farm; Freshcare businesses then undertake an annual on-farm audit to demonstrate that they are meeting all the requirements for the supply of safe quality fruit and vegetables to the market.
Many Freshcare growers are also choosing to adopt the Freshcare Environmental Code of Practice in addition to the Food Safety and Quality Code - demonstrating the environmentally sustainable nature of their businesses.
Whilst not a regulatory requirement, Freshcare or an equivalent 3rd party certified, HACCP based system is a requirement for growers supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to key customer groups, including the major retailers.
For further information on the Freshcare Program visit www.freshcare.com.au or contact Clare Hamilton-Bate, National Program Manager on 1300 853 508.
Dated: 11th May 2011.
Following our discussions with FarmReady, Freshcare has decided to extend the deadline by which growers must move to the 3rd Edition Food Safety and Quality Code (COP3) by 6 months. Under the revised timeframe, all audits conducted after the 1st September 2011 must be to the 3rd Edition Code of Practice (this deadline was previously the 1st March 2011). This extension will allow those growers who still need to undertake COP3 training, to delay their training until after the 1st July 2010 when the FarmReady Reimbursement Funding should once again be available.
This decision has been taken in part to ensure Freshcare members maintain their certification cycle; if the previous deadline of 1st March 2011 had been maintained it is likely to have resulted in some growers (due for audit from now until June 2011) deferring their audit until they could undertake their COP3 training under FarmReady, thus potentially disrupting their Freshcare certification and market access.
An earlier deadline for Certification to the 3rd Edition Food Safety and Quality Code (COP3) remains in place for growers supplying produce to Woolworths via a Woolworths Direct Trade Partner. These indirect grower suppliers are required to be certified to COP3 by the 31st December 2010, any exceptions must be advised to Woolworths by the Direct Trade Partner.
Woolworths understand that for some seasonal crops the Freshcare audit cannot take place prior to the 31st December as the grower will not be in harvest, in this instance details of COP3 training undertaken and the scheduled audit date should be provided.
All audits for growers supplying direct to Coles Supermarkets have been required to be to COP3 since 1st March 2010.
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