New To Freshcare
- What are the ongoing costs for maintaining Freshcare Certification?
Certification costs comprise of:
Program implementation and management - costs to be considered here include: staff training; testing required for compliance purposes (e.g. produce, soil, water testing); time and resources required for program maintenance and system reviews.
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).
- 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 initial certification. Freshcare does not put a time frame on achieving initial certification, rather participants are advised to progress to audit once the program is fully implemented within their business. Maintaining Certification to Freshcare requires ongoing program management, review and maintaining the required third-party audit cycles as set out in the Standard.
- What are my options for Freshcare training?
Food Safety & Quality - On-farm (for Growers and Growers/Packers)
Approved Trainers can deliver, face-to-face or online training for the Freshcare Food Safety & Quality Standard. To access trainer contact details, visit: www.freshcare.com.au/search-directory/training
Freshcare eLearning provides a mechanism for training to be undertaken online and at a pace set by the trainee. For more information visit www.freshcare.com.au/elearning
Food Safety & Quality - Supply Chain (for Supply Chain businesses)
Freshcare eLearning provides a mechanism for training to be undertaken online and at a pace set by the trainee. For more information visit www.freshcare.com.au/elearning
Environmental (for Horticulture) and Sustainability (for Wine Industry)
Approved Trainers can deliver, face-to-face or online training for the Freshcare Environmental Standard and Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice ( viticulture and winery). To access trainer contact details, visit: www.freshcare.com.au/search-directory/training
- If I move from another program to Freshcare, do I have to do training?
Yes. It is a requirement that all new participating businesses complete a Freshcare training course in the specific Program or Standard you are looking to implement. Freshcare training ensures consistency in the delivery of the requirements of the Standard, and how to best establish the program in the daily operations and activities of your business.
- Will the Freshcare program change the way I do things on my farm or in my business?
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 specific business requirements.
- 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.
- 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.
General Program Enquiries
- 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 individual 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 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 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 been logged by the Certification Body.
CARs should be closed out within 28 days of the 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 CARs must be closed out within 14 days of the audit.
Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)
- Has GFSI benchmarking increased the cost of Certification?
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 which should keep cost increases to a minimum.
- 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: https://www.freshcare.com.au/our-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, undergoing annual assessments and meeting reporting requirements to GFSI.
- 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 for HARPS.
- Why is Freshcare benchmarked to GFSI?
Freshcare has achieved GFSI benchmark status for its fresh produce food safety and quality standards covering production on-farm through to the supply chain. Freshcare undertook GFSI benchmarking to ensure ongoing market acceptance of Freshcare Certification by domestic and international retailers.
Benchmarking to GFSI has proven that Freshcare food safety systems are aligned with global best practice.
- 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
Food Safety & Quality Program Specific
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 complete a multi-screen test that includes chemicals used as part of your spray program and, where applicable, postharvest chemicals.
A rotation system must be used so that a different crop is tested each year.
There should be more than one product tested, where there are significant differences in crop groupings managed, and/or chemical application/treatment programs.
To ensure appropriate control of risk, a business must assess whether further testing is required. If required, product testing is to be completed by a NATA-accredited laboratory.
Please note that customer specific requirements may differ to Freshcare requirements and hence residue testing per crop may be necessary for some customers.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- Accept quote from Certification Body.
- Receive contract for audit from Certification Body.
- 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.
- 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.
Wine Industry Specific
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Freshcare training supports the interpretation of requirements of the Standards, provides examples of the documents and record-keeping needed to be kept, and explains how to integrate the program for best practice.
Training supports learning and program adoption and is an important component of all Freshcare Standards. Training ensures consistency in application, understanding and preparedness by participants in the Freshcare programs, and supports them to have all the tools needed to support their certification journey.
It is acknowledged that a number of participants may have existing qualifications relevant to applying the Standards, however, participation in the Freshcare training component should still benefit those participants, providing an opportunity for a greater understanding of the program and insight into ways the individual or business can integrate it.
- 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