Preparing and Booking your Freshcare Audit

New to Freshcare
1. How do I get Freshcare Certified?

explain the 4 steps (infographic to come) to certification and training here.

Link to website pages – training, programs etc

2. How do I book my Initial audit?

See Certification Audits and Re-certification Audits FAQs?

Certification Audits and Follow-Up (Re-certification) Audits

  1. How to undertake your first audit.
    Your first audit or ‘initial assessment’ is undertaken by approved third-party certification bodies. This ensures the review of your system is assess by organisations that are independent of Freshcare.
  2. When to book

Food Safety & Quality are required to be undertaken during harvest (or as close as possible to harvest for short season crops).

What if I grow different crops and harvest at multiple times during the year, which harvest season should I choose?

SC – operational months

VIT/WIN – can be anytime business activities occurring (not required to be during vintage)

ENV – can be anytime business activities occurring (not required during harvest).

Can I have my Freshcare audits to different Standards combined?

Yes, approved CBs have been chosen for their ability to offer a range of certification services to Freshcare participants e.g.




This requirement must be advised at the time of audit booking.

2. How to book your first audit.

A list of Freshcare certification bodies is available:

If you wish to obtain a quote, Freshcare can facilitate this through the following:

3. What to expect when booking your first audit.

  • Add info about quote and contracts etc
  • Certification Bodies who audit the Freshcare Standards are independent businesses to Freshcare, this ensures the integrity and quality of compliance with our Standards. We encourage you to contact the Certification Bodies directly to enquire about the auditing services they provide, so you can select one that best suit your needs.

4. What to expect when booking your follow-up (recertification) audit.

If you’ve been audited previously your chosen Certification Body is likely to make contact with you to schedule your follow -up audit.

You can still undertake quote requests with other Certification Bodies and we encourage you to check out the services being offered and obtain a quote, Freshcare can facilitate this through the following:

When should I book my follow-up (recertification) audit?

Ensure you schedule to have your audit undertaken within your 60-day audit window which should be reflective of your harvest or nominated operational period. Refer to table below:

Recommended lead time to book your audit
4months prior to expiry
60-day audit window
60 days counts back from the 1st day of Re-cert audit due month
Re-Cert audit due month
as found on your certificate
Certificate Expiry
as found on your certificate
Sept – Oct2 November – 1 JanuaryJanuary31-January
Oct – Nov3 December – 1 FebruaryFebruary28/29-February
Nov – Dec31 December – 1 MarchMarch31-March
Dec – Jan31 January – 1 AprilApril30-April
Jan – Feb2 March – 1 MayMay31-May
Feb – Mar2 April – 1 JuneJune30-June
Mar – Apr2 May – 1 JulyJuly31-July
Apr – May2 June – 1 AugustAugust31-August
May – Jun3 July – 1 SeptemberSeptember30-September
Jun – July2 August – 1 OctoberOctober31-October
July – Aug2 September – 1 NovemberNovember30-November
Aug – Sept2 October – 1 DecemberDecember31-December

What is the 60-day audit window?

The 60-day window is the timeframe allocated for businesses to undertake their follow-up (recertification) audits allowing for any corrective actions to be closed out within your audit month to enable recertification to be achieved prior to Certificate expiry.

Examples of the 60-day audit window are provided in the table above.

What do I need to provide my Certification Body with prior to audit?

  • Your CB will provide you an audit document or client contract prior to your audit being due. This document forms the basis of how the audit proceeds. It is important that you read this document carefully, note any changes in contact details, scopes, sites, or other business changes and send it back to your CB well ahead of your audit. By completing this on time, it will help to ensure you get your preferred date.

How do I prepare for my upcoming audit?

Being prepared and having your system up to date ensures your audit activity runs smoothly. There are a number of common tasks that businesses may need to undertake in preparation for audit. These include:

  • Ensure you have a trained Freshcare representative on site.
  • If your trained representative has left the business then someone else needs to complete training within 3 months of the person leaving.
  • All Programs: Internal audit has been completed and any outstanding items have been corrected and documented.
  • All Programs Traceability exercise, mock recall (where required) and incident management test completed.
  • Records are available and accessible for all monitoring activities undertaken.
  • FSQ/SC: Ensure Water testing has been completed.
  • FSQ/SC: Ensure all product testing has been completed.
  • FSQ/SC: Heavy Metals testing for Cadmium and Lead where your risk assessment was high or where customer specified.
  • Audit preparation checklist document can be found in FC Online

Unannounced audits

Unannounced audits have been introduced by Freshcare to meet Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) version 2020 requirements. This makes unannounced audits a requirement for participants in the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard Edition 4.2 (FSQ4.2) and Freshcare Supply Chain Standard Edition 2 (SCS2).

What does this mean for growers and packers seeking certification to FSQ4.2?

The unannounced audit rules established for FSQ4.2 require certified participants to undertake 1 in 4 of their follow-up (recertification) audits in an ‘unannounced audit’ delivery format.

Certification bodies are responsible for managing the audit process and will notify the site at the time of audit booking if their next audit will be unannounced.

What does this mean for supply chain businesses seeking certification to SCS2?

The unannounced audit rules established for SCS2 require certified participants to undertake 1 in 3 of their follow-up (recertification) audits in an ‘unannounced audit’ delivery format.

Certification bodies are responsible for managing the audit process and will notify the site at the time of audit booking if their next audit will be unannounced.

What is an unannounced audit?

An unannounced audit is a follow-up (recertification) audit that occurs during your normal nominated audit window, however instead of knowing the specific date the auditor will visit your business, an unannounced audit format means that the specific date the auditor will visit your business is not disclosed or known by the business to be audited.

Instead of a specific date for an audit being arranged, an unannounced audit period (of up to 60 days) will be advised for the business to prepare for their audit.

Note: 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 e.g. every Monday is a no harvest day.

What is achieved in an unannounced audit, that is different from a standard audit?

The intent of an unannounced audit is not for auditors to ‘catch businesses out’ but to allow for a surveillance-based approach to site assessments and the audit process.

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

What if my harvest window does not extend over 60 days?

If your harvest window is less than 60 days, a shorter than 60-day unannounced audit period can be established with your certification body.

Will I know if my recertification audit is nominated for an unannounced audit?

Yes, at the time of audit booking your certification body will advise that your audit cycle (1 in 4 years) has been allocated for an unannounced audit.

Can I change my unannounced audit allocation cycle?

Yes, if you are notified that you have been nominated to have an unannounced audit this year, you can negotiate with your certification body for your unannounced audit to be undertaken on a different year (of the 1 in 4 audits cycle).

What are the benefits of an unannounced audit?

Unannounced audits demonstrate an extra level of integrity in the audit process and have been introduced with the intention of supporting businesses to adopt an audit ready 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.

Promoting your certification.

Freshcare certification is an industry-leading achievement, and achieving certification to a globally recognised food safety standard is something worth celebrating.

Freshcare will be promoting the achievements of all businesses that achieve certification, with a special feature in our newsletters and website for those that achieve certification via an unannounced audit.

Other useful info to be worked into FAQs?

  • Demonstrate confidence in their systems and procedures, to the extent that they are/can be
  • Adopt an audit ready food safety culture

Unannounced audit process

  • The certification body is responsible for managing the audit process and will notify the site whether their next audit will be announced or unannounced.
  • When do CB’s notify sites when their next audit is unannounced?
  • CB’s will advise client in writing and by phone an unannounced audit is scheduled and name

How do I schedule an announced audit?

  • Unannounced audits are to take place between the 60 day audit window prior to certification expiration. Please note, this is the same audit window as recertification audits. See audit cycle table?
  • Audit must be conducted within harvest/operational days
  • It is expected that sites should be audit ready at all times due to ongoing compliance of the Standard. However, sites will be given a 10 day ‘black out’ period where the audit cannot be conducted such as non-production days.
  • For sites with a harvest window less than 60 days ‘black out’ days are reduced to 5?
  • The site must not be notified of the proposed audit date in advance

Preparation of audit

  • Non-availability of key staff is not an acceptable reason for audits to not go ahead. Therefore, there should always be a nominated second in charge if key staff are not available on site during audit.

Structure of the audit

  • The objective of the audit is to encourage sites to adopt an audit ready food safety culture and not to try to catch sites out. The intent of the audit is therefore to make an objective assessment of the everyday operating standards of the site in relation to the requirements of the Standard.
  • Are procedures of audit the same as announced?
  • Are post audit procedures the same as announced?