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Participating businesses are required to transition over from FSQ4 to FSQ4.1 for their audit in 2020.
All audits from 1 January 2020 will be to FSQ4.1

FSQ4.1 is not just an add on to FSQ4 and therefore requires some adjustments to your existing system to identify the areas that have been updated and changes that have been made to requirements.

Freshcare has provided FREE downloadable resources below to assist in the transition process to FSQ4.1.

FSQ4.1 Standard: Freshcare Food Safety & Quality Standard Edition 4.1 July 2019

Freshcare Rules: Freshcare Rules Version 4.3 – July 2019

Transition guide: FSQ4 to FSQ4.1 Transition 20190816

Factsheets: FSQ4.1 Factsheets

Updated Forms: FSQ4.1 Forms Compiled 24.7

If you would prefer to purchase a hard-copy of the fully updated FSQ4.1 Manual, please place an order via our eStore.

The FSQ4.1 transition course is available via Freshcare eLearning. Businesses that require further assistance with the update process from FSQ4 to FSQ4.1 should undertake training to the Full FSQ4.1 course or transtion module. For more information visit:  Freshcare eLearning.

FAQs - FSQ4.1

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.

M2.1 says I need to document procedures or work instructions for activities that impact food safety. What does this mean as I only pick fruit into bulk bins?

There are some processes on your farm that require a task to be done, or a series of steps to be completed to make sure the task is completed properly. The documented procedures will help to demonstrate a consistent and correct approach to food safety management. Freshcare has provided a template for the development of key procedures.

We have also documented a key work instruction as an example, that is necessary for every produce business to have in place, regardless of their activities, that is handwashing.

I have more than one growing site, and the rules tell me these all must be registered, why did the rules change?

The Freshcare Rules around the application of a business to be certified to a Freshcare Standard and the requirement for all sites to be listed has not changed.

What we have given is a clarification around the maximum allowable distance between sites that can be visited as the audit and that all sites with infrastructure attached must be visited every Audit. Sampling by the auditor can then occur on other sites, based on risk.

This intent has always been in place, but Freshcare has responded to concerns from Participating Businesses, that not everyone is treated equally in the application of these rules, so we have sought to add further wording to be clear.

My audit currently occurs in my quiet time, outside peak harvest, why did the rules change?

The Freshcare Rules around audits occurring during harvest period have not changed. It has always been a requirement that audits occur during (or as close) to harvest as possible.

If you audit does not cover your harvest period, then you are in breach of the Freshcare Rules, and you will need to contact your Certification Body to get your audit due date reset and aligned to harvest.

What is an unannounced audit?

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

They are required to give you a date range in which the audit will occur, in line with the Freshcare rules that is must be within harvest period and no more than 60 days ahead of your “re-certification audit due date”.

You can tell your Certification Body of up to 14 days of non-operational periods within this timeframe to allow for days that you know you don’t have activity in the business (ie every Monday is a non-harvest day). Contact your Certification Body or Freshcare if you would like to know more.

Does the actual process of my audit change?

The audit process should not dramatically change. Clause 7 of the Freshcare Rules outlines what you should expect to have occur during your audit. It will be a combination of document review, observation of your practices, processes and infrastructure, and interviewing staff.

**Remember the audit MUST occur during your harvest period**.

Minor CARs now must be closed to get my certificate, why?

In line with other GFSI standards, to be allowed to be certified, a business must have no outstanding corrective actions. We have aligned the CAR closure to make Major and Minor CAR closure timeframes the same (28 days).

We have also made a change that any CAR’s not closed within 6 months deems the audit invalid and a new one will need to be completed.

** All corrective actions raised at an audit MUST be closed for your business to be Freshcare Certified**

I have my own forms, can I continue to use them?

You can certainly continue to use your own forms, but you will need to review the new and revised criteria to ensure you capture any new information into your existing systems.

**Don’t forget to remove all old versions from use once you transition**

What Forms have changed?

Form – M1 Food Safety and Quality Policy

Form – M1 Position descriptions

Form – M2 Procedure-Work Instruction

Form – M3 Training record – internal FSQ

Form – M4 Internal audit report

Form – F7 Allergen management plan

Form – F8 Facilities audit checklist

Form – F10 Food safety instructions

Form – F12 Food defence vulnerability assessment and control plan

Form – F12 Food fraud vulnerability assessment and control plan

Form – F13 Harvest and packing record

Form – F14 Incident management plan

Do I have to download all new forms?

Download the revised forms here

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.

Changes to the Freshcare Rules impact my business, do I have to comply to these Rules immediately?

Compliance to the Freshcare Rules (v4.3 July 2019) must be achieved in line with your certification to FSQ4.1 from 1st January 2020. If you do not comply with the Rules at the time of this audit, a CAR may be raised.

My audit is due in January, can I postpone it to get more time to transition?

You will be required to transition to FSQ4.1, unless you are more than 60 days ahead of your “re-certification audit due month”. This is one of the reasons we give business 6 months’ notice of the new Standard.

If you need help, please contact Freshcare and we will direct you to support.

I have HARPS, how does this impact HARPS?

Your Freshcare audit in 2020 will be conducted to the revised FSQ4.1 Standard, as well as HARPS.

For more information on HARPS please refer to their website (

Why have you changed the Standard?

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. 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.

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.

For further information on the GFSI benchmark process, including Questions & Answers (Q&A), visit:

You can also contact the Freshcare Team at [email protected] or phone: 1300 853 508 (+612 8039 9999).