New Enquiries

What does Freshcare do?

Freshcare is the custodian of the assurance standards for the Australian fresh produce and wine industry.

Freshcare manages the development, review, accreditation, benchmarking, stakeholder engagement, market awareness, extension and adoption of the standards, and supporting resources.

Who accepts Freshcare certification?

Freshcare certification is a voluntary pathway for businesses to demonstrate and verify their credentials to customers across local and international markets; government stakeholders and regulatory bodies; financial and insurance institutions.

Local Markets – Freshcare certification is recognised in all Australian domestic market supply chains. Freshcare food safety and quality certification is accepted by all major retail chains and approved by HARPS.

International Markets – Global relationship-building ensures Freshcare certification is recognised and accepted in international markets. Benchmarking of the Freshcare food safety and quality program to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), ensures that our most widely used standard in Australia is accepted in all global markets.

Government – Freshcare certification can also demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements. Freshcare promotes the adoption of the standards by the fresh produce and wine industries with government bodies, as evidence of underpinning assurance for best practice. Accreditation of the Freshcare Environmental program by the Queensland Government for commercial banana cultivation in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment, demonstrates aligned and recognised pathways with legislation.

Others – Freshcare certification is used to demonstrate good business practice and therefore is often used to support business partnerships, applications to financial lenders, insurance companies, and institutions.

Will the Freshcare program change the way I do things on my farm?

When implementing the Freshcare program you will likely find you are already keeping many of the records required as a part of running your business. Freshcare training helps new businesses identify the risk areas that need to be managed when implementing the Freshcare Standards. There may be some physical changes to be made and additional records to be kept although these will be covered at training to ensure you address them in the most practical way for your property.

If I move from another program to Freshcare, do I have to do training?

Yes. Regardless of previous training completed and irrespective of which Freshcare Program you would like to undertake, it is a requirement that all new participating businesses complete a Freshcare training course. This is to ensure consistency in delivery of Standard and Program requirements.

What are my options for Freshcare training and are there varying costs?

FSQ Training (for growers and grower/packers)

  • One-on-one
  • Group
  • eLearning

Costs of one-on-one or group training for Freshcare is established by the Freshcare trainer. Freshcare trainers operate their own businesses independently of Freshcare. Training costs will vary based on training delivery method (one-on-one vs group training); location; number of participants; materials to be provided and travel costs. Freshcare trainers will also incorporate the trainer royalty fee (see Freshcare Fee Structure) into their training cost. Visit Trainers to access trainer contact details.

Freshcare eLearning provides a mechanism for training to be undertaken online. There is a set fee and structure for Freshcare training delivered via the eLearning platform. Please visit www.freshcare.com.au/elearning for more information.

FSQ-SC Training (for supply chain businesses)

  • eLearning

Freshcare eLearning provides a mechanism for training to be undertaken online. There is a set fee and structure for Freshcare training delivered via the eLearning platform. Please visit www.freshcare.com.au/elearning for more information.

ENV, VIT and WIN Training

  • One-on-one
  • Group

Costs of one-on-one or group training for Freshcare is established by the Freshcare trainer. Freshcare trainers operate their own businesses independently of Freshcare. Training costs will vary based on training delivery method (one-on-one vs group training); location; number of participants; materials to be provided and travel costs. Freshcare trainers will also incorporate the trainer royalty fee (see Freshcare Fee Structure) into their training cost. Visit Trainers to access trainer contact details.

How long does it take to achieve certification to Freshcare?

For most businesses it takes 3 – 6 months to undertake training, implement practices, establish records and achieve certification. Freshcare does not put a time frame on achieving certification, rather participants are advised to progress to audit once the program is fully implemented within their business.

How long does certification last?

To maintain Freshcare certification for Freshcare FSQ, FSQ-SC and ENV annual audits must be conducted. If the audit is successful (or once all corrective actions are closed). Certificates are valid from the date of issue until the end of the certification anniversary month the following year. Subsequent annual audits can be scheduled up to 60 days prior to the certification anniversary month, to allow the audit to be reported and processed prior to the expiry date on the certificate.

ENV-VIT and ENV-WIN certification are audited on a triennial basis.

What are the ongoing costs for maintaining Freshcare Certification?

Certification costs comprise of:

Cost of audit – this will vary per business depending on size of operation and number of sites, travel and accommodation charges and the standard(s) being audited. Businesses should source quotes for their annual audit from a number of Freshcare Certification Bodies to ensure they are getting the best rate available for their business.

Freshcare certification fees – this is a fee captured at audit by the certification body and remitted to Freshcare. As a not for profit industry organisation, Freshcare certification fees fund the operation of all Freshcare programs, no industry or government support is received. Freshcare certification fees are collected by the Certification Body on behalf of Freshcare at the time a business is audited. Refer to the Freshcare Fee Structure for details on the applicable certification fee(s).

Please note: the costs of any testing required for compliance purposes, should also be considered in addition to the above costs.

General Program Enquiries

I had a CAR raised at audit, where do I find details of what needs to be provided to my auditor, and what timeframe do I have to get it to them?

The auditor that completed your Freshcare audit will leave you with (or provide within a few days) a copy of your audit report and details of any Corrective Action Records (CARs) raised during the audit. The CAR details should outline which element of the Code it is applicable to and what is required to complete the CAR closure. Evidence of CAR closure should be provided directly to the auditor, Certification Body, or contact outlined in the audit report.

Details of CARs raised at audited can be viewed via FreshcareOnline once the audit has be logged by the Certification Body.

CARs should be closed out within 28 days of audit. CARs outstanding for longer than 28 days will place your Freshcare certification status in certification pending and will hold up your Certificate.

For FSQ-SC Major CAR’s must be closed out within 14 days of audit

I completed a Freshcare audit last week, when do I get my certificate?

Freshcare Certification Bodies have 10 business days to report a Freshcare audit. Certificates are issued within 10 business days once certification is achieved

Freshcare certificates are emailed by the Certification Body and are also available for download via FreshcareOnline.

I need to update my postal address and contact details, who should I notify?

FreshcareOnline provides Freshcare participating businesses with the ability to view and update their contact details. By logging into FreshcareOnline and updating your details you have notified all required contacts in one instance. Your online changes prompt a notification to Freshcare of the changes made. These changes are then forwarded to your Certification Body to ensure all contact information is correct, up to date and consistent.

Please Contact Us for assistance.

I have accessed FreshcareOnline previously but cannot remember my logon details, where can I find this information?

Your logon details to FreshcareOnline are sent out with the original welcome pack you receive once your business has been registered with Freshcare (either via your trainer or as an additional business).

Please Contact Us to have your logon details resent.

If you know your Company ID, or have your Freshcare Certificate (Company ID = last 5 digits of your certification number), you can have your password reset via the forgotten password option of the FreshcareOnline Logon.

Can I use the Freshcare logo on my boxes, packs or website / other promotional materials?

Only Freshcare certified businesses can utilise the Freshcare certification mark of the program they are certified to, such as FSQ or ENV. Please refer to the Freshcare Rules surrounding the use and application of Freshcare certification marks. If you are a Freshcare certified business interested in using the Freshcare certification mark, please complete Freshcare’s Logo Permission Request with your Certification number and intention for use of the logo.

I have an additional business that requires separate Freshcare Certification. How do I go about achieving Freshcare Certification this business and what are the costs?

If the second business is operating separately to the existing business registered with Freshcare, you will be required to register the additional business by completing an Additional Business Registration Form. Registering an additional business incurs a $93.50 (Incl GST) registration fee.

There is no additional training requirement when registering an additional business if the trained representative from the existing business will be managing the Freshcare Program for the additional business. If this is not the case, training of the person responsible for managing the Freshcare Program for the additional business is required.

Each additional business will require indiviual audits to obtain Freshcare Certification. A Freshcare Certification Fee is applicable to each individual business at the time of audit.

If you are unsure whether you are required to register your additional business, Contact Us for further assistance.

FSQ specific

What is a management review?

A Management Review is a formal, structured meeting which involves owners and/or senior managers of the business and takes place at regular intervals throughout the year but must occur at least annually.

The objective of the management review is to ensure the food safety and quality system implemented remains suitable, adequate and effective.

What is an incident management plan?

Incident management planning will help detail the steps to be taken before, during and after an incident or event to maintain the financial viability of the business.

Proper planning and preparation by your business is key to avoid and reduce the risks associated with events or incidents that could result in major disruptions to operations; and preparing a plan to ensure services to customers can continue.

Who is JASANZ and how does this impact Freshcare?

JASANZ (Joint Accreditation System Australia New Zealand) is an accreditation body.

JAS-ANZ accreditation sends a clear message. It says your Certification Body can be counted on to perform its duties—in an authoritative and impartial way. It flags that you have been approved by an independent third-party as a professional body that acts with integrity when certifying or inspecting for conformity assessment.

JAS-ANZ accredited certification underpins food exports and the domestic market– many customers purchasing these products require accredited certification as a declaration of the safety of the products produced, and as proof that regulatory requirements have been fulfilled.

The Freshcare Food Safety & Quality Standard is one of the food schemes accredited by JASANZ.

What does Freshcare FSQ training cover?

Freshcare FSQ training introduces the key areas of food safety risk on-farm and allows you to apply these to your own operations, the training provides guidance on how to interpret the Standard requirements, manage any risks identified and outlines the procedures, practices and record keeping required to demonstrate compliance with the Food Safety & Quality Standard.

I grow various crops as specified in my scope for Freshcare FSQ Certification. Do I have to have a residue test completed for each crop type?

The Freshcare Food Safety & Quality Standard requires each participating business to have an annual broad spectrum chemical residue test conducted by a NATA-accredited laboratory on one crop specified under their Freshcare scope.

Therefore multiple residue tests are not required for Freshcare FSQ Certification, just one crop test per year. It is however recommended that you rotate between crops when testing each year.

Please note that customer specific requirements may differ to Freshcare requirements and hence residue testing per crop type may be necessary for some customers.

I grow different varieties of mandarins, and my customer requires a residue test on each variety. I’m looking at arranging to have a composite residue test undertaken. Does Freshcare accept composite residue test results?

Freshcare does accept composite residue test results, providing the test is a broad spectrum screen and has been conducted by an appropriate NATA – accredited laboratory.

Composite residue testing is the testing of more than one product (of the same crop type), per residue test. Results are then distributed by the number of products included in the composite test. If a violation occurs on a composite test, individual product testing will then be required.

Please note that customer specific requirements may differ, and approval for composite testing may be required from individual customers.

What chemical users training course is acceptable for Freshcare?

Freshcare requires the following national competencies to be included in all chemical user training qualifications:

  • AHCCHM303 – Prepare and apply chemicals
  • AHCCHM304 – Transport and store chemicals.

Some examples of training course providers that deliver these competency units are AusChem Training, ChemCert Australia and SmartTrain.

FSQ approved suppliers

I am using ‘Total Testing Labs’ for my annual MRL test. The report they send to me shows that they are NATA accredited. Do I have to get a letter from them stating this?

The requirement of a laboratory undertaking MRL tests is that they “hold NATA accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 for the specific testing requested and provide evidence of accreditation” (Freshcare specifications). Rather than adding them as an approved supplier, why not inspect the report each time it comes in to make sure they still hold current NATA accreditation? Sign the report to indicate that you have inspected it against the specification.

I am using a transport company called ‘Trucks R Us’ and they say on their website they have a HACCP plan in place which allows them to transport produce for the supermarket chains. Can I assume they are no risk?

No. Firstly, a HACCP plan does not necessarily mean that they meet Freshcare’s requirements. Secondly, there is nothing to say the HACCP plan is audited or even current!
Get the transport company to sign a letter or statement addressing the Freshcare specifications for the provision of transport services.

We are the main supplier of Ag chemicals and fertilisers in our area and have been asked by several clients to sign approved supplier letters for their Freshcare FSQ Program. The letter asks us to confirm if products contain or have been in contact with known allergens and a list of allergens is provided. We can’t provide this assurance as we are not the manufacturer of the products and also don’t know what they may have been in contact with during storage and distribution. How do we respond to our clients?

This concern has been raised by many Freshcare members and their suppliers. We have amended the letters / specifications in consideration of this. The letters will still ask you to advise if you are aware that the product contains or has been in contact with known allergens. If you are not the manufacturer of the product and thus cannot provide an assurance of the allergen status, you should state this in your response.

Wine Industry Q & A

How do I book an audit for the Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice?

Audits to the Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice (Viticulture or Winery), are required to be undertaken on a triennal basis for businesses to maintain certification.

When preparing for your first audit, it is recommended to have a minimum of 3 months’ program records established.

To schedule and book your audit, contact one of Freshcare’s registered Certification Bodies here. Alternatively, complete the Audit Quote Request Form to receive a quote for audit from all available Certification Bodies.

I’m a new member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia what does Freshcare provide the program?

Freshcare is the certification program owner that manages the development, application, and certification processes of the Freshcare Standards provided for voluntary use by industry.

The Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice – Edition 1 in both Viticulture (AWISSP-VIT1), and Winery (AWISSP-WIN1), were developed to support the Australian Wine Industry, and Sustainable Winegrowing Australia members.

Certification to AWISSP-VIT1 and AWISSP-WIN1 is achieved through third-party audits on a triennial basis.

The Sustainable Winegrowing Australia trust mark has been released in conjunction with the AWISSP-VIT1 and AWISSP-WIN1 Standards, for use by certified members on wine labels, communications, and marketing materials, to provide a visible demonstration of their commitment to sustainable practices. Customers and consumers will know from seeing the trust mark that the vineyard and winery have met rigorous standards of sustainability.

Certified members will also benefit from enhanced international marketing opportunities through Wine Australia’s marketing events programs and the integration of sustainability stories into Wine Australia’s education and content for customers and consumers.

What is Sustainable Winegrowing Australia?

Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is Australia’s national program for grape growers and winemakers to demonstrate and continuously improve their sustainability in the vineyard and winery through the environmental, social, and economic aspects of their businesses.

The program takes a holistic approach to managing, supporting and promoting sustainability. It is administered by the Australian Wine Research Institute with governance, endorsement and active support from Australian Grape & Wine and Wine Australia.

Sustainable Winegrowing Australia is modelled on global best practices and aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with progress towards these monitored annually.

It provides a clear pathway to becoming a Certified Member, with the full support of the Australian Wine Research Institute along the way.

Certified members:

  • Commit to triennial independent audits to the Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice.
  • Are identified by the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia trust mark – an assurance to customers and consumers of how the product is produced.
  • Benefit from inclusion in Wine Australia’s marketing events programs, in case studies, sustainability stories, and in Wine Australia’s education and content for customers and consumers.

When do I need to update from the Environmental Code to the Sustainability Standard?

Registered businesses that had previously participated or received training in the Freshcare Environmental Viticulture or Environmental Winery Codes of Practice will need to transition to the Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standard of Sustainable Practice – Viticulture (AWISSP-VIT1) or Winery (AWISSP-WIN1), by 1 January 2021. 

From 1 January 2021, only audits to Freshcare AWISSP-VIT1 or  Freshcare AWISSP-WIN1 will be undertaken.

Why do I need to undertake Freshcare Training for the Sustainability Standards?

The requirement for Freshcare training in the AWISSP-VIT and AWISSP-WIN Standards is to ensure each participating business has at least one trained representative on-site that has been trained in the use and implementation of the Standard(s), the interpretation of requirements and verification and record-keeping that must be maintained to demonstrate compliance at audit, without the need to engage an external consultant. This is a requirement for all Freshcare Standards, to ensure consistency in application, understanding and preparedness by participants.

It is acknowledged that a number of participants may have existing qualifications relevant for the application of the Standards, however, participation in the Fershcare training component should still provide benefits to those participants and at the very least an opportunity for a greater understanding of the program and insight into ways it can be integrated by the individual or business.

Q&A - GFSI

What is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)?

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an international benchmark model of best practice against which food safety systems such as Freshcare can be assessed.  Customers can confidently accept fresh produce from suppliers certified with any food safety system that meets the GFSI benchmark requirements.

More information on GFSI can be found here: https://www.mygfsi.com

Why is Freshcare benchmarking to GFSI?

Freshcare has to achieve GFSI benchmark status to ensure ongoing market acceptance by retailers.  Without GFSI benchmarking, Freshcare would cease to be recognised and the Australian fresh produce industry would lose its most relevant, practical and cost-effective food safety certification option.

Benchmarking to GFSI means Freshcare food safety systems are aligned with global best practice.

 

What benefit does GFSI benchmarking provide my business?

Businesses certified to Freshcare can feel confident they are meeting international best practice food safety standards determined by GFSI benchmarks, and are compliant with customer food safety requirements as a base standard for HARPS.

What are the changes to Freshcare for GFSI benchmarking?

The Freshcare Food Safety & Quality Standards are required to be updated to align with the release of new benchmark criteria as set by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Freshcare communicates updates to the Food Safety & Quality Standards directly with participating businesses and stakeholders.

Information on the Freshcare Standards can be found here: www.freshcare.com.au/standards

The GFSI benchmark process also means changes for our certification bodies in areas such as auditor competency, audit scheduling and management of corrective actions.

The Freshcare office has also been required to update our internal management systems and operating procedures to meet GFSI requirements.

What are the impacts on my business?

You will need to complete a review of your current Freshcare Food Safety & Quality system and check that any new requirements are addressed. Updates related to management records, policies and procedures will be required.  There are also additional requirements related to managing food safety risks, particularly relating to worker health and hygiene.

What will it cost?

Freshcare businesses may incur additional costs due to the extra time it may take to implement the new standards and/or meet audit requirements. The impact will vary depending on the circumstances of each business. However, we do not expect that there will be substantial changes to system implementation and compliance on farm which should keep cost increases to a minimum.

Is the Supply Chain Standard also being benchmarked to GFSI?

Yes, the benchmark of the Freshcare Supply Chain Standard (SC1) will commence in mid-2019, with plans for the release of an updated GFSI benchmarked standard in December 2019, and full implementation by 30 June 2020.