Home' Grower : March 2010 Contents 20
The South Australian Grower -- March 2010
Australian fresh produce exports to Indonesia - including table grapes - are valued at $33 million.
High food safety standards have ensured local produce meets tough new Indonesian import
Indonesia tests Aust safety
INDONESIA has been a valuable export market to
Australia for many years. In the 2008-09 financial
year, tablegrapes, citrus, vegetables, apples and
pears worth $33 million were exported.
The Indonesian government released the first
draft of a ministerial decree requiring evidence of
acceptable food safety control from the country of
origin for the import and export of fresh food of
plant origin in April 2007. The ramifications for
those Australian industries exporting to Indonesia
were obviously significant. The onus was on the
Australian government to provide evidence that
our food safety program was of an acceptable
standard to the Indonesian government and to
negotiate to maintain market access.
By July 2009, following the release of a number
of revised drafts of the decree, the Indonesian
government advised that implementation of the
new regulations would occur on August 19, 2009.
Australia was provided four options for
compliance, and among those was an
'equivalence agreement' or recognition of
Australia's food safety surveillance system.
Horticulture Australia Limited began assisting the
extensive work already being undertaken by the
Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry,
providing the industry information required to keep
the market open. Once details of the regulations
were available, Australia had less than two months
to prove its case.
HAL product integrity manager Richard Bennett
set to work gathering the evidence to prove that
industries had good agricultural practices that
could be measured with regard to chemical usage
and a highly effective food safety program.
Food Safety Standards became enforceable in
Australia in February 2001. While Food Safety
Standards apply to 'food businesses' -- defined as
businesses that process food or sell wholesale or
retail food, growers and packers are indirectly
implicated in the standards. This is because food
businesses are required to take all practicable
measures to ensure that they only accept food
that is not contaminated from suppliers. This has
led to retailers such as Woolworths, Coles, Aldi
and Metcash/IGA requiring their suppliers to be
certified by an acceptable food safety system,
such as Woolworths Quality Assurance Standard,
SQF2000, SQF1000, Freshcare and Codex HACCP.
"To gain the necessary recognition we worked
closely with DAFF to provide a comprehensive
overview of Australian Food Standards Code and
its application to horticulture to the Indonesian
Government," Mr Bennett said.
Following a series of high level representations
made by DAFF to the Indonesian Government,
implementation of the decree was delayed until
November 19, 2009 and interim requirements --
including a list of pesticides used or a certificate of
analysis for each consignment sent -- were imposed
to allow exports to continue through this period.
At this point, the Indonesians accepted an
invitation to inspect Australian growers' and
exporters' quality assurance systems and the trip
took place in early December 2009. The
tablegrape, citrus, vegetable, apple and pear
industries collaborated on a project funded by HAL
using levies and matched funds from the Federal
Government to enable the visit to occur.
The Indonesian delegation visited growers,
packers, laboratories and central markets in south
east Queensland and Western Australia. If the
delegation members were not satisfied with
Australia's food safety systems at any point, the
$33 million market could have been jeopardised.
Reports on residue testing, through the National
Residue Survey and FreshTest, were also
submitted. These reports demonstrated the
effectiveness of quality assurance systems and
chemical management activities in particular, to
manage chemical residue issues in domestic and
"The FreshTest and National Residue Survey
reports gave evidence of our ability to manage
agrichemicals," Mr Bennett said.
"Testing verifies that Good Agricultural Practices
are being followed by Australian producers.
"They could see from these reports how much
produce is tested and the results. Coupled with
what they saw on site, that was sufficient for the
Indonesians to be convinced of the integrity of
Australia's activities, and on February 3 the
government was advised that its safety systems
had been approved for two years.
"It's a great feeling to have it done because we
know through this work we have made a
significant difference. The leadership from DAFF
contributed enormously to this outcome," Mr
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