What is Freshcare Certification and How Does it Work?

Our complete guide will help you understand the Freshcare certification process, how it works, and how Onside can help your business achieve certification.


Farm operations

worker planting vegetables large

Freshcare is a leading provider of assurance standards in Australia. It provides numerous programs covering a wide range of agribusinesses. 


Agricultural producers are always on the lookout for ways to elevate their produce and showcase their high standards. Freshcare certification is one of the best ways to do that.


When customers see the Freshcare symbol on your products, they know that you have met strict standards to deliver high-quality goods.


Managing your farm efficiently can make the certification process easier. Using tools like our farm management app can streamline your operations and help you stay compliant.


So how can you get Freshcare certified? Read our for our complete breakdown of Freshcare certification. We'll cover the various standards that exist and the process for becoming certified.

What is Freshcare certification?

Founded in 2000, Freshcare is the largest Australian assurance program for fresh produce, wine grapes and supply chains. It offers internationally recognised standards for the Australian fresh produce industry.


Freshcare offers 5 different standards, focusing primarily on food safety, quality and sustainability. Its standards fall into 3 categories:

  • Fresh Produce (on-farm) Standards
  • Fresh Produce Supply Chain Standard
  • Wine Industry Standards (created to achieve certification with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia)

Freshcare is funded by its participants. All proceeds go back into research, development and science.


Freshcare has over 20 member organisations. These member organisations are representative bodies for producers and serve as a go-between for Freshcare and individual producers.


These member organisations can be highly useful in the process of Freshcare certification. Growers can get in touch with these organisations for more specialised information on the Freshcare certification process that applies to them.


For vineyard managers looking to align with Freshcare standards, integrating our vineyard management software can streamline compliance and operations.

What Freshcare standards exist?

In total, there are 5 Freshcare standards. Different standards will be available to your business, depending on the role you fill within the agricultural industry.


If it is appropriate for your business to apply for multiple Freshcare standards, Freshcare states that its programs can be "created to be implemented as standalone programs or integrated into one combined assurance system."


For more insights into the agricultural landscape, explore our guides to Australian agricultural statistics and New Zealand agricultural statistics.

Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard (FSQ4.2)

The Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard is designed for Australian producers. It aims to provide guidelines in the following areas:

  • Good agricultural practice.
  • Best management criteria.
  • Specific food safety safety requirements.

It applies not only to the production of food but also the on-farm packing of food. The Standard has been recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative, making it an internationally recognised standard.


The Freshcare Food Safety and Quality Standard includes the following 3 sections:

  • Rules: This section of the Standard lays out some of the fundamental regulations involved in Freshcare certification. It outlines the process for registration, auditing, corrective actions and more.
  • Management: The Management section relates to how the Standard is applied throughout the agricultural workplace. Completing this section requires growers to identify the scope of the Standard's application, define roles and responsibilities among team members, documentation, procedures and more.
  • Food Safety and Quality: The final section of the Standard lays out the specific process for compliance. It instructs growers on conducting the relevant risk assessments, risk minimisation, best practices and much more. It includes 14 elements to be fulfilled before a business can become Freshcare certified.

Freshcare Environmental Program (ENV3)

The second of Freshcare's on-farm standards is the Freshcare Environmental Program. It is designed to "help Australian producers demonstrate world-leading environmental management practices and stewardship of their land, resources and communities in which they operate."


The Program helps growers understand all the ways their activities can impact the environment. It provides easy-to-understand, actionable steps to help producers operate their business in a more sustainable way.


The Freshcare Environmental Program includes the following 2 sections:

  • Management: This section of the Program is very similar to the management section of the Food Safety and Quality Standard. It relates to the scope of the Program, roles and responsibilities, documentation and more.
  • Environmental: The Environmental Section of the Program includes 10 elements. It includes the creation of an Environmental Action Plan, minimising degradation, biosecurity and chemical procedures.

Supply Chain Standard (SCS2-FSQ)

Like the Food Safety and Quality Standard, the Freshcare Supply Chain Standard is recognised by the GFSI. It can apply to a wide range of businesses involved in fresh produce supply chain operations, including:

  • Agents
  • Brokers
  • Fumigators
  • Marketing groups
  • Packers
  • Ripeners
  • Storage and distribution centres
  • Transporters
  • Wholesalers

The Standard consists of the following 3 sections:

  • Rules: Like the equivalent sections in other Freshcare standards, this section addresses the basic elements of Freshcare certification. This includes registration and auditing.
  • Management: This section involves the development of management of workplaces in accordance with the maintenance of the Standard. It ensures processes are developed and followed, and that staff understand their roles with regard to the Standard.
  • Supply Chain Elements: This section specifically addresses the activities that need to take place to achieve Freshcare certification. It provides details surrounding risk assessments, managing allergens, managing water sources, chemical storage and much more.

Freshcare Australian Wine Industry Standards of Sustainable Practice (AWISSP-VIT1 and AWISSP-WIN1.1)

Freshcare has 2 Standards of Sustainable Practice for wine industry businesses. One Standard applies to Viticulture and is for Australian wine grape growers. The other standard applies to Wineries and other wine businesses that sell wines under their own label.


After completing one of these Standards, businesses can become certified members of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. SWA is Australia's leading national program for sustainable practices in the wine industry.


Both the Viticulture and Winery Standards consist of the following sections:

  • Rules: As with other Freshcare standards, this section lays the groundwork for Freshcare certification with information on registration, audits and more.
  • Management: For both Standards, this section covers elements like the creation of a Sustainability Action Plan and compliance with the standards of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.
  • Environmental: The 2 Standards diverge in this section. The Viticulture Standard features 8 elements including; land, soil and nutrient management; pest and disease management; and biodiversity. The Winery Standard features 9 elements including; biosecurity; emergency response; and waste.

For more information, check out how Onside can help you achieve Sustainable Winegrowing Australia Certification.

How to get Freshcare certified

Freshcare has 5 different standards available. The process for successfully completing each of them is quite similar across the board.


Here is our overview of the Freshcare certification process.

1. Sign up and complete training

The first step to getting Freshcare certified is to complete the relevant training. This process generally takes the form of a 1-day face-to-face workshop.


Then, trainers may provide an on-site visit to give more specialised advice. They are also usually available to contact via phone or email to provide continuing instruction.


Freshcare has a wide range of certified trainers available. These trainers can provide individual services for applicants. You can find a trainer on the Freshcare website.


Freshcare also offers eLearning for the Supply Chain Standard only. With Freshcare eLearning, users can access modules and resources over 12 months.


Users will also have access to a dedicated eLearning support officer. They assist throughout the course and sign off course completion.

2. Implement Freshcare system in your business

With your Freshcare training under your belt, it's time to implement the Standard in your business. Take the time to carefully review your operations compared to the Standard.


Depending on which Standard you are implementing, this may involve:

  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Completing internal training
  • Compile relevant documents and/or begin documenting relevant procedures
  • Properly manage the use of chemicals

3. Conduct an internal audit

The next step is to conduct an internal audit. Procedures to follow for internal audits are outlined in each standard.


Your internal audit should include the following steps:

  • A review of all activities and records relevant to the Standard in question.
  • Ensuring that the workers completing the audit are independent of the actions being assessed.
  • Complete a Corrective Action Record for any non-compliance.
  • Ensuring that additional customer requirements that are not covered in the Standard are recorded and upheld.

Any issues that you identify in your internal audit should be swiftly addressed. With this step complete, you are ready for an external audit.


Make this process easier with digital tools like Onside. Onside can be used for documenting property maps, storing records, recording incidents and more.

4. Book an external audit

Your external audit should be booked at least 90 days in advance. Once you've set a date for your audit, an external auditor will visit your site while it is operating.


Your audit will be conducted by one of 7 independent Certification Bodies:

  • ACO Certification
  • BSI Group ANZ
  • Intertek SAI Global
  • Merieux NutriSciences Certification
  • Sci Qual International
  • SGS Australia

Properly preparing your business documents and records in advance of your external audit is critical. Each standard contains a list of the relevant records which may be required as part of the audit. Templates for many of these documents are provided by Freshcare or member organisations.


Examples of documents which may be reviewed as part of your external audit include:

  • Property maps.
  • Documentation for procedures.
  • A training certificate proving completion of the relevant standard.
  • Internal audit.
  • Product specifications and inspection records.
  • Risk assessments.
  • Chemical inventories.

Other than preparing documents and records, Freshcare recommends preparing for your audit in the following ways:

  • Planning who will be involved, what resources will be needed, and any obstacles you may face
  • Ensuring all workers have an understanding of their responsibilities. Importantly, workers should understand if they are second in charge of a key area in case 1 worker is not present during the audit.
  • Ensuring all relevant annual activities have been completed.

5. Action corrective actions record

Once your audit has been completed, you will within a few days receive an audit report. Along with your report will be a Corrective Actions Record (CAR) for any breaches of compliance found during the audit.


The CAR will outline the element of the code the issue is applicable to. It will also provide instructions on how to resolve the issue and complete the CAR closure.


You should close out the CAR within 28 days of the audit. Once you have completed CAR closure, you must provide evidence. This evidence is provided to the auditor, approved Certification Body or contact outlined in the audit report.

6. Receive and display certification

Once your CAR has been closed out, you will receive your certification via email. You are now certified, allowing you to use the Freshcare logo for a range of purposes.


To begin using the Freshcare logo, you'll need to submit a logo permission request. Once accepted, you can purchase a Freshcare logo artwork package for $220.


The use of the Freshcare logo is subject to a style guide. When using the logo, you must follow rules such as:

  • When displaying the Freshcare logo, you must incorporate your unique Freshcare certification number.
  • You can only use the Freshcare logo in connection to products grown and/or packed in compliance with Freshcare standards.
  • You can only use the Freshcare logo on trade-level packaging and pallets that are not intended for display at the point of sale.

Benefits of Freshcare certification

Becoming Freshcare certified can take a significant amount of effort for businesses. However, the benefits are well worth it.


Here are a few reasons to consider becoming Freshcare certified:

  • Freshcare standards are industry leaders. They allow you to rest assured you are complying with internationally-recognised standards. Having clear, actionable standards to follow reduces guesswork and helps you run your business with confidence.
  • The Freshcare logo efficiently communicates that you are complying with stringent standards. There’s no better way to quickly let others know that your produce has been grown and handled with strict procedures ensuring its quality.
  • Freshcare standards ensure that your business activities are more environmentally friendly. This ranges from providing risk assessments to follow to best practices on soil management. Freshcare standards allow you to continue to operate your business while following sustainable procedures.
  • Having Freshcare certification can open doors to new markets and customers which require businesses to follow such standards. This can help drive greater revenue for your business as your produce becomes more in demand.
  • Freshcare maintains relationships with governments, aligning its standards with legislative requirements. This means that when you are Freshcare certified, you are well on your way to maintaining full regulatory compliance.

To further enhance your farm’s efficiency, check out 5 ways to simplify farm tasks.

Certification made easy with Onside

Remaining compliant with Freshcare standards can be a difficult task. Fortunately, Onside can save you time and money with a simple way to manage your ongoing compliance needs.


Reduce health and safety risk across your properties. You can map and display your risk information with the digital mapping feature. Pinpoint where chemicals and diesel are stored, as well as other key points of interest. You can attach documents to these risks, such as the Safety Data Sheets for chemical risks.


Keeping a record of inputs is an important part of your certification. Use Onside to manage all of the inputs on your properties, like the application of irrigation, chemicals, fertiliser, etc. Then access the ready-to-download reports needed for your audit.


Manage your on-farm biosecurity plan. By using the check-in questions and check-in rules, Onside makes it easy to ensure that all visitors have gone through the steps that stop pests and diseases being brought onto a property.


Map your properties and blocks. Use Onside’s digital mapping to create a detailed property map that shows the boundaries, blocks, water sources, waste lines, roads, sensitive biodiversity areas, and more.


Keep on top of your corrective actions. Assign tasks and pull reports to show progress and completion of the corrective actions. 


This just scratches the surface of how you can simplify your Freshcare certification with Onside. Book a demo with a product specialist today and begin your path to certification with Freshcare, Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and much more.