Getting Certified to Supply Compost to Freshcare Assurance Program Members : BLOG: Australia’s Freshcare Food Safety Compliant Compost Project

MRA Consulting’s Virginia Brunton explains the implications of recent changes to the Freshcare Code of Practice for Australian compost producers…

Freshcare is the fresh produce industry’s own on-farm assurance program adopted by thousands of fresh produce businesses as their key food safety program.

In addition to the Food Safety and Quality (FSQ) assurance code of practice (COP) to ensure safe fruit and vegetables, Freshcare also offers Environmental, Environmental Viticulture and Environmental Winery Codes providing an independent assurance of on-farm environmental practices and sustainable production. Over 70% of the Australian vegetable industry are Freshcare members and over 90% of the fresh produce in the supermarkets is grown by the organisation’s members.

However, the initial COP largely restricted the use of compost by Freshcare members thus preventing farmers from harnessing the benefits that composts have for soils and the environment.

Under the Freshcare Food Safety Compliant Compost project the COP was revised and criteria established that allowed compost produced under the Australian standard for composts (AS4454) to be used by farmers with Freshcare certification.

The recently revised Freshcare COP (FSQ4) now allows the unrestricted use of correctly composted recycled organics in fruit and vegetable production opening a new market for Australian compost producers. AS4454 certified composts are already approved under FSQ4 but non-AS4454 certified composts will need to be independently verified including pasteurisation records, heavy metal levels and microbial levels.

MRA now provides independent verification of compliance with the Freshcare COP for compost producers that includes an assessment and verification of:

Processes and procedures to ensure pasteurisation

Time-temperature records

Heavy metal analyses

Microbial analyses.

A report and certificate that verifies compliance can then be supplied and passed by compost producers to Freshcare member customers for their records.

The Freshcare Food Safety Compliant Compost project was funded under the NSW EPA Waste Less Recycle More, Organics Market Development Grants to identify and remove barriers to the use of compost in the fresh produce (fruit and vegetble) sector.

Virginia Brunton is Principal Consultant- Organics:

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