Single standard for supermarket food safety
AUSTRALIA’S major supermarkets will adopt a standardised food safety audit system.
Aldi, Coles, Costco, Metcash (IGA) and Woolworths have all signed on to the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS), agreeing to one single standard for food safety in fresh produce.
A pilot launch of the new program will take place in the coming months, with the full standardised food safety initiative expected to begin by the end of the year.
According to the Produce Marketing Association Australia New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), growers will benefit by having a single system to maintain and audit, while the industry will benefit from lower costs of doing business, greater efficiencies in quality assurance and improved food safety outcomes across the entire fresh produce supply chain.
Hort Innovation CEO, John Lloyd, said this model is being collaboratively driven by the horticulture sector using cross-industry levy funds, with support from the nation’s leading retailers – ALDI, Coles, Costco, Metcash (IGA) and Woolworths.
“Currently, Australia’s leading grocery retailers all have varying food safety requirements that whole fruit and vegetable growers adhere to as part of the supermarket supply process,” he said.
John said this new measure will reduce the number of audit elements required to supply the nation’s major grocery retailers from more than 200 combined, to around 60, while strengthening food quality standards through the acceptance of internationally benchmarked auditing programs.
“This new streamlined food safety audit initiative is a win for an estimated 14,000 growers across Australia who currently supply the nation’s leading fresh produce retailers,” he said.
“It will lower the cost of doing business for the industry, which is estimated to save growers and producers around $40 million per year through more efficient auditing processes.”
John thanked ALDI, Coles, Costco, Metcash (IGA) and Woolworths for their commitment to the standardisation of fresh produce food safety measures and supporting the nation’s horticultural industry through the new initiative.
“The grocery retailers have responded to industry feedback, and reviewed the current arrangements, and have combined the best food safety standards that are available,” he said.
“By working together and achieving this result, everyone in the industry is looking forward to the roll-out and the substantial reduction in auditing costs.”