This month marks the 12th Consecutive workshop for the HARPS (Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme) Stakeholder Working Group (SWG). The HARPS is a national first for Australia, where all major supermarkets retailers have come together to work collaboratively towards a harmonised food safety solution for the fresh produce industry. In terms of timelines, the project is now in full pilot with 2 pilots having taken place in early August and a further 4-6 pilots to follow. The SWG have decided to consider  a broad range of products, locations, base scheme and auditors, with a focus on ensuring technical documentation is robust and that the program fulfills the objective of ensuring a more harmonised, efficient process to auditing. Throughout the workshops the SWG have worked dilligently to reduce over 260 'outliers' or requirements from different retailers, down to approximately 60.

GLOBALG.A.P. IFA is one of 4 schemes that the SWG has approved as the base scheme for HARPS. A supplier will undergo the Base scheme audit in conjunction with the HARPS audit. Once all criteria are satisfied the supplier will be certified to HARPS with the possibility to then supply any of the 5 retailers participating in the scheme.

Whilst the HARPS scheme was officially launched to the public in May 2016 during the PMA Fresh Connections Conference in Brisbane Australia, the planned 'Go-Live' date is October 2016 with all suppliers expected to transition to HARPS by January 2018.

Fresh Produce Safety Centre Conference
The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is an industry-led, not-for-profit company established to enhance fresh produce safety across Australia and New Zealand through research, outreach and education.

On Wednesday 10 August 2016, The FPSC Conference was held at the University Of Sydney, with the objective of communicating Innovation in Fresh Food Safety. The conference included discussion on Global Technical advances in Food Safety, Innovative techniques to better manage food safety as well as an opportunity to reflect on what we have learnt from recent food safety crises.

The Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS) was also presented by Belinda Millard - Key Account Manager - GLOBALG.A.P. and Tristan Kitchener of Kitchener Partners. The Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme is an industry led project involving Horticulture Innovation Australia, Australia's largest retailers and the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand.

Photo: shutterstock.com