When should I book my audit?

It is recommended that you book audits at least four to five months before your certificate expires, or before planning to have your first audit. For renewal audits, it is recommended that your audit is conducted within the 60-day audit window. This should align with your harvest or nominated operational period. The Audit Booking Table gives you timelines for booking your audit and guidance on your certification cycles.


60-day audit window is the timeframe for businesses to undertake their audits and renew their certification. This needs to be done prior to your certificate expiring.

Re-Cert audit due month reflects the month that your certificate will expire. It is recommended that your audit is scheduled in the 60-days prior to this month, to allow time for any corrective action closures; invoice payments; and for the audit review process to be completed, prior to your certificate expiring. This will ensure your certificate can then be received and available at the time you need it.

Booking your audit

Unannounced audits have been introduced by Freshcare to meet Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) version 2020 requirements as follows:


  • 10% of program participants annually will have an unannounced audit for the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard Edition 4.2 (FSQ4.2)
  • 1 in 3 recertification audits will be unannounced, for program participants in the Freshcare Supply Chain Standard Edition 2 (SCS2).
  • You can book a 30-day audit window for the unannounced audit to take place.
  • You can block out up to 10 days as “non-audit” days in the 30-day window.

Audit FAQs

  • How do I prepare for my audit?

    Being prepared and having your system up to date helps your audit activity run smoothly. There are a few tasks that you may need to undertake in preparation for audits. You should consider:

    • Formulating a plan of attack - Who should be involved? What resources are going to be needed? What are anticipated obstacles?
    • How is my businesses data, records and documents collected, managed, and stored? Do the right people have access and knowledge required to this information?
    • All workers should have an awareness of who is responsible for management of the Freshcare program and who is nominated as a second in charge if key workers are not available or on site during the audit.
    • Have all annual activities been completed? e.g. product testing, water testing, internal audit, traceability exercise.

  • What should I expect when booking my Freshcare audit?

    Each Certification Body is an independent business and therefore their processes may differ slightly. We do know there are a few things you will need to provide them with, in order for them to provide you with a quote and audit booking. The following is an example of the audit booking process:

    1. Provide your details to a Certification Body such as; business and contact details, sites and locations, the Freshcare training and Standard you want certification for.
    2. Receive a quote for your audit and proposed date or unannounced format request (applicable to Food Safety Quality + Supply Chain Standard only see information under Unannounced Audits).
    3. Accept quote from Certification Body.
    4. Receive contract for audit from Certification Body.
    5. Sign and return contract for audit to Certification Body.

  • When should I book my audit?

    The Audit Booking Table gives you timelines for booking your audit.

    If it is your first audit, you must have evidence of completed Freshcare training when booking.

    If it is an audit to renew your certificate, your Certification Body is likely to make contact with you via email to book your audit.

    It is your responsibility to ensure you have an audit booked. It is recommended that your audit is done within the 60-day audit window. This should be in your harvest or nominated operational period.

Unannounced Audit FAQs

  • What if my harvest window does not extend over 30 days?

    If your harvest window is less than 30 days, you can nominate a shorter unannounced audit with your certification body.

  • Do I get to choose the year I have an unannounced audit?

    If a business would like to nominate a certain year for an unannounced audit, this can be arranged between the business and its Certification Body.

  • How will I know if my business has been chosen for an unannounced audit?

    Certification Bodies will contact you in writing in preparation for your next certification cycle, and this usually occurs three (3) months out from your audit booking window. The Certification Body will advise you if the audit has been selected as an unannounced audit, as per the program rule requirements.

    For more information visit: unannounced audit changes.

  • Can I change my unannounced audit cycle, if there are extenuating or difficult circumstances?

    Yes, if you are experiencing special circumstances you can discuss with your certification body for your unannounced audit to be undertaken in a different year.

  • What is achieved in having an unannounced audit? What makes it different from scheduled audits?

    The intent of an unannounced audit is not for auditors to ‘catch businesses out’. It follows an observation-based approach to site assessments and the audit process

    An unannounced audit provides a chance for auditors to see the true business culture as it operates on any given day. A chance to witness and report on how the food safety system has been integrated into the business’ everyday practices.

  • When do unannounced audits occur?

    Like an announced audit, an unannounced audit will occur during harvest and operational periods. All audits occur during (or as close) to harvest as possible for FSQ4.2, and during operational periods for Supply Chain businesses.

    The Audit Booking Table gives you timelines for booking your unannounced audit and guidance on your certification cycles.

    However, there may be dates when an audit genuinely cannot take place. Businesses are given the opportunity to nominate 10 non-visit days within their unannounced audit period. Non-visit days are times at which the audit cannot be conducted due to non-production or days that the business is not active. For example, every Monday is a no harvest day.

  • How often do unannounced audits occur?

    For growers and packers seeking Certification for Food Safety and Quality 4.2:

    • 10% of program participants annually will be selected for an unannounced audit.

    For Supply Chain businesses seeking Certification for Supply Chain Standard Edition 2:

    • Program participants are required to undertake 1 in 3 of their re-certification audits unannounced.

  • What are the benefits of an unannounced audit?

    Unannounced audits show an extra level of integrity for businesses. They were introduced to support businesses in adopting an ongoing food safety culture

    Unannounced audits deliver improved customer confidence. Buyers seeking evidence of your certification will see this added level of achievement as ‘unannounced audit’ will be recorded on your certificate.

  • What is an unannounced audit?

    An unannounced audit is a re-certification or renewal audit that occurs during your normal nominated audit window.

    It is the same as your standard re-certification audit, with the exception that you will not know the exact date when the auditor will arrive to your site.

    The actual process and conduct of the audit are identical regardless of whether the audit is announced or unannounced. 

  • How do I prepare for my unannounced audit?

    The actual process of preparing for audit are identical regardless of whether the audit is announced or unannounced.  However, for unannounced audits you will need to ensure that the Freshcare Trained Representative of your business or second in charge will be available on site during the 60-day audit window (excluding the nominated non-operation days). This person cannot be a consultant unless they are employed by your business on a frequent basis.