QA programs prove their worth

Quality Assurance Programs - Why they matter to growers

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CHECK: Many QA programs include compliance requirements when purchasing AgVet chemicals and fertilisers from Agsafe accredited premises.

CHECK: Many QA programs include compliance requirements when purchasing AgVet chemicals and fertilisers from Agsafe accredited premises.

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Quality assurance programs are worth the time required to put into them.

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FOOD safety compliance is a fundamental requirement for businesses across most sectors of the Australian agricultural supply chain.

Ease of market access is a primary factor in the success of any farming operation.

The benefits of certification range from meeting domestic retailer or processor requirements, to gaining access to premium export markets.

Most food safety and quality assurance programs require detailed documentation and annual audits to verify compliance against the chosen standard.

Many quality assurance (QA) programs include compliance requirements when purchasing AgVet chemicals and fertilisers from Agsafe accredited premises.

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Why? Because the Agsafe stewardship programs play a key role in helping ensure our food is safe to eat and no harm comes to people, the environment and our export trade.

The standards also include disposal of empty chemical containers and any unusable chemicals through the stewardship programs that the drumMUSTER and ChemClear programs deliver.

This has resulted in key on farm food safety management programs and guidelines recognising the importance of "Approved Suppliers for Agvet chemicals" be from businesses who are Agsafe accredited.

Because staff are Agsafe trained in giving correct advice about safe and legal use as per the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA) registered labels, as well as being trained in the correct transportation and storage requirements of agvet chemicals.

Navigating Australia's food safety and quality certification standards can be confusing - tack on international market requirements, and the process grows in complexity.

Still, the benefits far outweigh the work involved in certification under the many schemes available to Australian farmers today.

Freshcare, Australia's largest and most widely adopted fresh produce assurance program, is at the forefront of domestic and international food safety compliance, underpinning confidence in the safety and quality of Australian fresh produce from paddock to plate.

"At Freshcare, our standards are continually reviewed to ensure they comply with the requirements of all key stakeholders across the supply chain, incorporate the most recent science, and remain practical and relevant for industry," Freshcare general manager of industry development, Clare Hamilton-Bate said.

Freshcare documentation states: "For the horticulture industry under the Freshcare Interpretive Guidelines, require Agvet chemicals be obtained from Agsafe accredited businesses (and trained personnel), or recognised equivalent."

DISCUSSION: The quality assurance panel session at the recent Agsafe Conference in Brisbane with Scott Sheppard from AgNova, speaking

DISCUSSION: The quality assurance panel session at the recent Agsafe Conference in Brisbane with Scott Sheppard from AgNova, speaking

Since 2016, Freshcare has been recognised as one of the base schemes under the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS).

To maintain this approval, Freshcare is in the final stages of benchmark assessment and compliance against the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) - the international benchmark model for best practice in food safety systems.

"It's important that Freshcare achieves and maintains the GFSI benchmark recognition, to ensure ongoing market acceptance by the major Australian retailers.

"It also demonstrates that Freshcare's food safety systems are aligned with world best practice, which is another boost in confidence for Australian fresh produce."

Last year, Freshcare announced the release of the Freshcare Food Safety and Quality - Supply Chain Standard Edition 1.

"The standard was developed in response to industry and market requests to address the challenges of food safety and quality compliance for businesses involved in fresh produce supply chain operations including packing and handling, storage, transport and distribution, brokerage and wholesale services," Ms Hamilton-Bate said.

The process for a business to get involved in the Freshcare Supply Chain Standard is very similar to that for grower businesses.

However, all training for the Supply Chain Standard is delivered through the Freshcare eLearning platform. Support in implementation of the Supply Chain Standard can be provided via the Freshcare trainer network if required.

Agvet retailers and quality assurance programs are an essential element of ensuring agvet chemicals are correctly and safely used so no harm comes to people, food, the environment or the agricultural export trade.

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