A single framework for fresh food safety certification looks set to replace a plethora of food safety standards, reports abc.net.au. The Produce Marketing Association of Australia and New Zealand (PMA) is preparing to launch the simpler system, to save fresh produce growers, processors, wholesalers and retailers millions of dollars in costs.

PMA technology manager Richard Bennett said that after three years of development, the harmonised standard would be launched in October.

He said it would replace the major export and Australian food retailers' food quality assurance systems over the next two years.

"Globally there's hundreds [of systems]," Mr Bennett said.

"Certainly in Australia, the retailers have their own systems or their own bespoke standards that they bolt on to other global systems, so it's quite complex.

"Typically many direct suppliers in Australia might be certified by three, four, or five different standards."

Mr Bennett said the new "harmonised" standard had been accepted by Australia's five major chain-retailers and the three top global food safety certifiers, because it has adopted the global benchmark for best practice in food safety.

He said the PMA framework also met Australian retailers' needs for about 60 additional elements from direct food suppliers.

Mr Bennett said the changes cut costly duplication in both documentation and official audits.

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