Fresh Produce Quality Assurance systems in Australia

QA systems are about meeting customer requirements Systems common in Australia include;  


Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is a government agency that develops and administers the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code (The Code). The Code regulates food safety in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is enforced and interpreted by state and territory governments, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture enforces the code for imported produce. For information on Food Safety and Quality Assurance programs;  


The Harmonised Australian Retail Produce Scheme is a Hort Innovation funded initiative to align the food safety requirements of Australia’s major retailers; ALDI, Coles, Costco, Metcash (IGA) and Woolworths. It is managed by a Project Team, including the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ). HARPS requires direct suppliers who have a direct commercial relationship with one or more of the major Australian retailers need to achieve compliance to one of four base schemes plus the elements of HARPS by 1 January 2018. A subcontractor or co-packer who packs to a retailer specification for another business that then supplies one or more of the five chain retailers, is also a direct supplier and is required to be compliant to one of the base schemes plus HARPS by 1 January 2018. Indirect suppliers, who are growers supplying product for further handling and/or packing by a direct supplier and then to one or more of the five chain retailers, are not required to implement HARPS. However, indirect suppliers are required to be certified to one of the four base schemes by 1 January 2019. The base schemes are all Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked standards (GLOBALG.A.P., BRC or SQF) and Freshcare, which is in the process of achieving a GFSI benchmarked status. For detailed information on HARPS or to contact the HARPS team, visit the HARPS website.  


The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) method is an internationally recognised, systematic approach to identify, evaluate and control hazards to product specifications. HACCP uses prevention to ensure the production of safe food and is applied through seven principles:
  • Hazard Analysis
  • Critical Control Points
  • Critical Limits
  • Critical Control Monitoring
  • Corrective Action
  • Procedures
  • Record Keeping
HACCP was developed from the need to produce safe food for the US space program and is now widely used by all sectors of the food industry and is a key component of many QA schemes. For more information on HACCP see: The Australian Institute of food safety  


The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a global collaboration between food safety experts to drive continuous improvement in food safety management systems across the world. GFSI benchmarks food safety systems and GFSI-recognised certification programs represent the international best practice benchmark for food safety. Base schemes in the HARPS initiative are all GFSI recognised or are in the process of achieving GFSI recognition. For more information visit:  


Freshcare is the fresh produce industry’s own on-farm assurance program, meeting the needs of Australian growers in fulfilling both domestic and international market requirements. Freshcare’s practical approach to helping growers and packers assure customers that their produce is safe to eat and sustainably grown has seen thousands of fresh produce businesses adopt the Freshcare program since its launch in July 2000. Freshcare is Australia’s largest on-farm assurance program and exciting new developments, including benchmarking to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), will ensure the program continues to grow. Freshcare is widely accepted as a practical, industry focused, food safety program. However, Freshcare is not just about food safety and quality. The Freshcare Environmental, Environmental Viticulture and Environmental Winery Codes are also being widely adopted, providing an independent assurance of on-farm environmental practices and sustainable production. For more information visit;  

Current Regulatory Arrangements (October 2017)

State and Territory Food Acts, and other food related legislation, include overarching requirements that a person must not sell food that is unsafe and/or suitable and must not handle food intended for sale in a manner that will render or is likely to render food unsafe or unsuitable.  The Acts also require compliance with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (The Code). With the exception of seed sprouts, the Australian fresh produce sector is unregulated by means of primary production and processing (PPP) standards under Chapter 4 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). Standards 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Code apply to minimal processing and packing operations where these activities do not constitute primary food production.  Standard 3.2.2 of the Code requires that a food business:
  • must take all practical measures to ensure it only accepts food that is protected from the likelihood of contamination, and
  • must be able to identify food on its premises and where it has come from.
Aspects of Chapter 1 and 2 of the Code also apply to the production and processing of fresh produce, including maximum residue limits for chemical residues and contaminants, labelling of packaged produce and the use of additives and processing aids. There is no requirement for the registration/licensing of businesses engaged in the production and processing of horticultural commodities and no mandated traceability requirements for fresh produce.