Peak industry body Citrus Australia has urged the country’s growers to become more familiar with impending changes to food safety regulations.
Under the new Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS), growers must now meet one of three base schemes for food safety – Global GAP, SQF or Freshcare – in order to have their fruit sold through the country’s major supermarket chains.
Up until now, many Australian citrus growers have relied on the standards outlined under HACCP, a scheme not recognised under HARPS.
“I share the opinion that HACCP provides a good set of food safety principles but on their own they are not a system that can be audited,” said Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock. “However, many of the HACCP principles are evident in the three recommended systems.”
Australian growers have until the end of this year to complete training in one of the approved schemes and have an audit done during harvest.
Hancock said growers need to be well prepared before the audits because they can be very expensive. Auditors will often remain on site until all non-compliant issues are rectified or return at a later date to conduct a second audit to close out issues. In an effort to help growers become compliant, Citrus Australia has become Freshcare trainers.
“We want to help growers achieve a successful audit and offer post-training services as part of our initial training cost to help ensure growers are audit-ready,” Hancock added.