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Citrus growers turn to HARPS for food safety

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

Related tags: Food safety, Audit

Citrus Australia has called on growers to get up to speed with changes in how they manage food safety.

The industry body said it applies to growers of any table citrus including mandarins, navels, grapefruit, lemons or limes for sale in major supermarkets.

Retailers are working with Hort Innovation to simplify red tape and multiple food safety audits.

Under the new Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS) system growers must meet one of three base schemes for food safety: Global GAP, SQF or Freshcare.

“Many growers have relied on HACCP up until now. However the HARPS system does not recognise HACCP as a food safety system,”​ said Nathan Hancock, CEO of Citrus Australia.

“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. However, many of the HACCP principles are evident in the three recommended systems.”

Growers need to be prepared before audits because they can be expensive. Auditors often remain on site until all non-compliant issues are rectified or return at a later date to conduct a second audit.

They have until the end of the year to complete training and have an audit done during harvest.

Citrus Australia is a member of Freshcare – the fresh produce industry’s on-farm assurance program.

The group has Freshcare training sessions planned over the next three months in the Sunraysia, Murray Valley, Riverina and Riverland citrus-growing regions.

Hancock said it became Freshcare trainers and is offering training to growers to assist them in becoming compliant.

“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.

“Increasingly we are seeing importing country governments implement food safety standards as they look to protect their populations​. Likewise, imported produce to Australia is held to very high standards – often Global GAP with additional microbial tests and maximum residue limit testing, as well as a new push to meet ethical standards.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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