HARPS Newsletter October 2022 Edition

The HARPS Version 2.0 launch date is fast approaching! During the lead up to the launch date, we’ll be sharing the latest information regarding training and support available for the standard’s release. Here, you’ll find key information that relates to the launch of Version 2.0, including the launch date for the standard, transition timelines and an overview of the support available to help your business transition from Version 1.0 to 2.0, with additional guidance for producers currently using Freshcare (FSQ4.2 and SC2) as their GFSI base scheme.

In addition, we’ll provide insight into the behind-the-scenes activities that have been taking place to ensure HARPS delivers a practical and supportive standard to growers, whilst ensuring the food safety, legal and trade requirements of retailers, and ultimately, the consumers are satisfied.

We hope you find this newsletter informative. Feel free to visit the HARPS website www.harpsonline.com.au or call the HARPS Helpline 1300 852 219 for any queries.

HARPS Version 2.0 Launch date and Timeline for Transition

The HARPS Version 2.0 Standard will launch on 17th October 2022 and the HARPS Retailers will start to accept the new standard from this date, with an extended transition timeline for Tier 2 suppliers.

HARPS suppliers have the option of selecting either HARPS Version 1.0 or Version 2.0 for their audits, in accordance with the following timelines:

    • From 17th October 2022, Tier 1 suppliers have six months to transition to the new standard. Therefore, Version 2.0 will become mandatory for Tier 1 suppliers from 17th April 2023 (i.e., from 17th April 2023 Tier 1 suppliers will NOT be able to use HARPS Version 1.0).
    • Tier 2 suppliers will have 12 months to transition to Version 2.0, with a mandatory transition date of 16th October 2023 (i.e., from 16th October 2023 Tier 2 suppliers will NOT be able to use HARPS Version 1.0).
Following the 17th October 2022 launch, any new suppliers (those that have never undergone a HARPS audit before) will be required to have an audit against the Version 2.0 Standard.

Suppliers that can be defined as both Tier 1 and Tier 2, must follow the transition timeline for a Tier 1 supplier.

What’s new in Version 2.0

For those of you who reviewed the original Version 2.0 Draft released in December 2019, you will recall sections on Food Fraud and Business Culture. Following a comprehensive review of the draft to ensure no duplication had occurred with the recently released Freshcare FSQ4.2 standard, the Retailer Committee agreed to remove these sections, given all GSFI standards have adequately addressed these essential components.

The standard looks different, it’s lengthier. However, this is not due to additional elements. In fact, in addition to removing the sections on Food Fraud and Business Culture, over nine other elements have been removed or re-written in combination with other elements to aid understanding and implementation.  The increase in the size of the standard is due to the inclusion and focus on guidance for every element, where the specific element is explained in more detail with examples and further context regarding what outcomes the element is aiming to achieve. The guidance is to aid understanding, and therefore, the correct implementation of the element.

In addition, for each element the documentation required is detailed, the Tier (1 or 2) that the element is applicable to and comprehensive guidance to explain why the element exists and how to implement the element. The glossary has been enhanced, with hyperlinks throughout the document, which will take you to the specific glossary definition to further aid understanding.

As previously, the HARPS Decision Graphic in included within the Standard, as well as a guide to assist with defining “Who is my Customer for HARPS?”.

Support available for Version 2.0

In addition to the Guidance embedded within the new standard, a range of supporting documentation and material has been developed; the following tools and training will be available to support your businesses transition to Version 2.0:

  • HARPS Version 1.0 – 2.0 Summary of Changes (document);
  • Version 2.0 Internal Audit (document that replaces the HARPS Pre-Assessment document);
  • Transition Training online (short videos to support understanding, as an alternative to using HARPS Version 1.0 – 2.0 Summary of Changes;
  • HARPS and Freshcare Internal Audit (document that covers the additional requirements of HARPS for suppliers on FSQ4.2 and SC2);
  • Version 2.0 Training for Auditors, Growers and Suppliers. This will be offered both online and face-to-face with further information provided closer to the launch date; and

As always, you can contact us via the HARPS Website by filling in an enquiry form or contact the HARPS Helpline.

HARPS Version 2.0 Pilot Audit with N&A Fruit Distributors Pty Ltd

Ilias Kastrantas, (QA Manager) Centre, along with Alexia Karatasas left (QC & former Intern) and Bing Liu Right (Production Manager)

The N&A Fruit Distributors is a well-established, vertically integrated horticultural company, specialising in the growing, packing, ripening, exporting and marketing of horticultural products. For over 60 years, N&A has been a category leader and developed strong and collaborative relationships with its suppliers and customers. It’s commitment to innovation has been achieved through the introduction of new varieties, sustainable packaging and the continued investment in its infrastructure, systems, and people. N&A are committed to continuous improvements in food safety and embraces its commitment to responsible and ethical business practices throughout the supply chain. N&A encourages and supports all its growers and suppliers with their food safety plans and compliance needs.

Ilias Kastrantas, our key contact on the day, is the QA Manager at N&A Fruit Distributors and has been employed with N&A since 2008. We approached Ilias to participate in the first Version 2.0 pilot, to obtain an understanding of how Version 2.0. relates to a business responsible for receiving, ripening, packing and distributing produce to Retail Customers. The business is a Tier 1 supplier and uses the SQF Standard as their GFSI base scheme for HARPS. The certification body, AUS-QUAL, also provided their support to the process with discussions with the HARPS auditor prior to the audit date.

One Direction ANZ: Ilias, thanks again for contributing to the pilot program for HARPS and congratulations on being the first Tier 1 business to achieve approval to HARPS Version 2.0. Can you give us your impression of how you think the pilot audit to the Version 2.0 Standard went?

Ilias: On behalf of N&A, I would like to thank HARPS and Aus-Qual for the opportunity to take part in the pilot audit. While most audits are a little stressful, the positive approach and overall constructive feedback given by all parties contributed to a successful audit experience. The process provided a unique insight and valuable experience to me and to our new QC Alexia, who started as part of N&A’s graduate intern programme.

One Direction ANZ: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being involved in a pilot audit?

Ilias: A considerable advantage is being a part of a process to help shape policy and the requirements of the standard. All parties benefited from having direct access to the packing facility and applying the standard to actual systems being utilised in the packing process. Sharing input gathered from experienced management and staff contributed to the collaborative experience of the pilot audit. Personally, I viewed the experience as a positive challenge and an opportunity for N&A to take a leading role in helping to achieve a standard that is both workable and of benefit to all businesses in the fresh produce industry.

One Direction ANZ: What are your thoughts around the structure of the new standard?

Ilias: There has been a noticeable improvement in the structure of the new standard with regards to layout, clarity and expanded guidance. The standard is much more helpful and succinct with its explanations, and it achieves what it sets out to do – namely, to help the business understand and implement the food safety requirements in order to comply with the standard. There is far less ambiguity and head scratching when reading the standard which is a positive and welcome change.

One Direction ANZ: What were the key changes for your business between Version 1.0 and Version 2.0?

Ilias: A greater understanding of the standard was the main sentiment expressed by management and staff. While there were certainly some minor changes and recommendations that were evident and required in order to achieve certification, I was surprised by the level of compliance we were already achieving with respect to the new standard. Our continued and expanded investment in our food safety team and resources has not only helped with our compliance but has raised our food safety awareness and culture throughout the whole of the business.

One Direction ANZ: What feedback can you provide to other businesses, Tier 1 or 2 that will be making the transition to Version 2.0 over the next twelve months?

Ilias: I believe most other businesses will be pleasantly surprised by version 2 of the standard. For businesses that already comply with version 1.0, the new changes and recommendations will be less onerous and time-consuming. The expanded guidance and ease of use will help with the understanding, implementation, and on-going compliance of the standard, and will ultimately benefit the business in the long run.

Opening hours for HARPS and Certification Bodies over the Christmas and New Year Break

The HARPS office will be closed on Thursday 22nd December and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January 2023. For emergency calls during this period, please contact the HARPS Helpline on 1300 852 219 and a team member will respond to your call as soon as possible.

Opening hours for HARPS Approved Certification Bodies

Certification Body Closure dates
ACO Certification LTD Closed public holidays only
AUS-QUAL 12pm 23rd December 2022 – 2nd January 2023
BSI 24th December 2022 – 8th January 2023
Intertek SAI Global 19th December 2022 – 2nd January 2023
SCI QUAL International 12pm 23rd December 2022 – 2nd January 2023
Intertek SAI Global 23rd December 2022 – 3rd January 2023
SGS Australia 23rd December 2022 – 9th January 2023