Leafy Vegetable Grower or Processor
If you grow or supply leafy vegetables in Queensland, then you may need an accreditation with Safe Food Production Queensland (Safe Food) as of 12 February 2025. This is because the new national Standard 4.2.8 – Primary Production and Processing Standard for Leafy Vegetables (the Standard) comes into effect on this date.
The Standard captures all leafy vegetables where the leaf is consumed raw, including (but not limited to):
- Baby leaves (e.g. spinach, rocket)
- Lettuce (e.g. iceberg, romaine, red leaf, watercress)
- Leafy herbs (e.g. parsley, basil, coriander, dill, fennel leaves, mint, thyme)
- Asian leafy greens (e.g. bok choy, choy sum)
- Spring onions
The national Standard will be implemented and regulated at a state level. Safe Food will be the state regulator for Queensland. We are working closely with the horticulture industry and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the Standard is implemented effectively to achieve its desired outcomes.
Will I be impacted?
The following activities are captured by the Standard:
- Growing and/or harvesting leafy vegetables
- Washing, trimming, sorting, sanitising, storing, combining harvested leafy vegetables, and field packing
- Transporting harvested leafy vegetables between primary processing premises
The Standard is yet to be incorporated into Queensland’s Food Production (Safety) Act 2000. We are working with industry and other stakeholders to determine which of these activities may require an accreditation with Safe Food.
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What is an accreditation?
Note: the requirements for an accreditation will not apply to individuals who grow or produce leafy vegetables for their own use.
What if I have an existing commercial certification?
A GFSI-recognised certification program is often required when supplying to major retailers and distributors. It’s important to distinguish that these certifications are a commercial requirement, not a regulatory one. However, Safe Food recognises the important role that these serve within the horticulture supply chain. We are committed to reducing regulatory burden on businesses and are working with commercial program owners to understand their programs and help them align with the Standard.
Who is Safe Food?
Safe Food is the state regulator for the primary production and processing of meat, eggs, dairy, seafood, and seed sprouts in Queensland. We are a statutory body of the Queensland Government that was established in 2001.
Our approach to regulation is non-prescriptive and outcomes focused. We know that every business is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation doesn’t work. Non-prescriptive regulation allows businesses to identify and manage their own food safety risks. Safe Food’s role is to then verify that these risks are being managed appropriately. This approach fosters greater ownership and accountability for food safety by the food business, which leads to more predictable food safety outcomes for all.
Safe Food uses a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory measures to achieve this with each food safety scheme that we regulate. We are committed to applying this same approach to the leafy vegetable industry. This includes exploring the feasibility of recognising existing commercial certification schemes.
How to apply
The Standard has not yet been incorporated into Queensland’s Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014. Therefore, it is not possible to apply for accreditation at this stage. However, this will be a legal requirement for some growers and processors by 12 February 2025.
Safe Food is currently engaging with GFSI-recognised commercial program owners, industry representatives, and individual growers on implementation of the Standard within Queensland and what the accreditation requirements will be for the leafy vegetable industry.
We are also working nationally with other regulators to align how the Standard will be implemented across all states and territories, with the goal growers whose operations straddle state boundaries can expect to meet similar regulatory requirements.
Key dates to know
Why is there a national standard for leafy vegetables?
The new Primary Production and Processing Standard for Leafy Vegetables sets out the minimum requirements necessary to grow, harvest and process leafy vegetables in Australia. The Standard applies to all businesses regardless of size, from large operators selling direct to retail chains, to small independent growers supplying to farmers markets. Having a nationally consistent food safety standard will ensure better consistency in the market, improve traceability through the supply chain, and provide assurance that food safety risks are being managed appropriately during production. While these are all important elements for protecting public health, they can also help open new market access opportunities for industry.
Background to the Standard
In August 2022, three new Primary Production and Processing Standards were introduced for berries, leafy vegetables, and melons in Australia. These new standards have been included in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The standards aim to strengthen food safety management on-farm and during initial processing to reduce food safety risks along the supply chain.
The decision to develop the new standards came about in June 2018, when the Food Ministers’ Meeting (formerly known as the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation), noted the increase of foodborne illness outbreaks in Australia and requested FSANZ to reassess food safety risk management across three horticultural sectors.
FSANZ raised proposal P1052 to consider regulatory and non-regulatory measures for berries, leafy vegetables, and melons. This proposal included two rounds of public consultation in 2020 and 2022. P1052 was approved by the FSANZ Board on 22 June 2022 and considered by food ministers at their meeting in August 2022. The new standards will commence from 12 February 2025.
Accreditation fees are yet to be determined but will be based on the activities you are carrying out, as defined by the Standard.
Safe Food is exploring alternative compliance arrangements to help reduce costs and ensure the industry remains sustainable.
More information will be shared as it becomes available.