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Freshcare – GFSI

01 May 2019

Freshcare has released an update on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmark process to all its FSQ participating businesses. The update can be viewed here: FSQ Member Update – 1 May 2019

Important information for participating businesses:

  • On 1 July 2019, the updated standard FSQ4.1 will be released.
  • The FSQ4.1 standard will ensure Freshcare certification is compliant with the benchmarks set by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
  • Freshcare will provide participating businesses with all the information and resources needed to meet the new requirements.
  • Participating businesses will have six months to transition to the updated standard.
  • From 1 January 2020, all audits will be conducted against FSQ4.1.

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If you have any questions please refer to the Q&A below or contact the Freshcare Team at [email protected] or on 1300 853 508.


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:

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 world’s best practice.

Freshcare’s progress to full benchmark can be monitored via the GFSI website:


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 Standard (FSQ4) has been updated to FSQ4.1 to ensure Freshcare certification is compliant with the benchmarks set under GFSI.

The updates found in FSQ4.1 relate to management records, policies and procedures and some additional requirements related to managing food safety risks, particularly related to worker health and hygiene

The GFSI benchmark will also mean 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.

How long will it take to transition to FSQ4.1?

A transition period of six months has been applied to align with retailer compliance deadlines.

From 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2019, Freshcare members will be able to choose to be audited to either FSQ4 or FSQ4.1, depending on their level of preparedness.

As the majority of changes to the Standard relate to the management aspects of compliance, a review and update to your system with the resources provided should be relatively straightforward and completed over a few hours.

Do I need to update my Freshcare training?

No. Training as per the requirements of FSQ4 will be recognised.

As of the 1st July 2019, training resources for new trainees will be updated to FSQ4.1

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.

Will I need help implementing changes?

Resources, including training webinars, will be made freely available on the Freshcare website to assist businesses in the transition to FSQ4.1. Hard copy materials will also be provided.

If additional support is required, please contact the Freshcare office or Freshcare trainer network for assistance.

When do I need to be audited to the updated Standard?

From 1 January 2020 all grower and packer businesses will be audited to FSQ4.1

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.

Will my upcoming audit be conducted to FSQ4 or FSQ4.1?
No Audits will be conducted against FSQ4.1 prior to 1 July 2019.
From 1 July – 31 Dec 2019, participants can choose to be audited against either FSQ4 or FSQ4.1.
From 1 January 2020 all audits will be conducted against FSQ4.1.
Will new forms be issued or need to be downloaded; or are current forms acceptable?
On release of FSQ4.1 updated forms will be posted out to participants free of charge.
Freshcare will only make changes to forms or provide new forms, where changes or updates related to FSQ4.1 are applicable.
The majority of FSQ4 forms will remain current and not require modification.
Updates to the internal audit report template will be be provided, to ensure changes from FSQ4 to FSQ4.1 are addressed.
Will a newsletter or transition guide be released advising of changes?
Freshcare will be providing ongoing communication explaining the updates to the standard. This information will advise you of changes and what these changes mean for your business. We aim to ease the transition for you, and will keep you up to date with information as it becomes available.
A hard copy of the FSQ4.1 resources will also be posted out to all participants from 1 July 2019.
Do these changes mean we need HARPS?
If you don’t require HARPS with your current Freshcare certification you will not need to upgrade to HARPS for FSQ4.1.
For more information on HARPS visit