Independent Panel Names LGMA Guidelines for Food Safety as Preferred Option
SACRAMENTO, CA – After performing an independent review of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s (LGMA) food safety Guidelines, a panel of four experts have supported the program as a collection of the most current and best food safety practices.
“With the many changes in the LGMA practices and the addition of the Produce Rule under FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), the LGMA felt it was important that we seek an expert review of our Guidelines to ensure the LGMA remains a strong, preventative program that minimizes the risk of microbial contamination in the production and harvest of leafy greens,” said Scott Horsfall, President and CEO of the California LGMA.
Panel members stated in a press release that the Guidelines offered the same level of protections as the federal law, but provided a more detailed and strict guidance in many areas.
“If a document is going to be utilized, it must be clear,” said Dr. Kali E. Kniel, one of the panelists. “The LGMA Guidelines includes terms already familiar to many growers like SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) on which some growers have been trained for over 15 years.”
The review panel consisted of the following experts, chosen for their related experience:
- Dr. Robert Bracket: Vice President and Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health, Illinois Institute of Technology. Former Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.
- Dr. Michele Jay-Russell: Project Director of the Western Center for Food Safety, University of California
- Dr. Kali E. Kniel: Professor of Microbial Food Safety, University of Delaware
- Dr. Manan Sharma: Research Microbiologist in the Environmental and Microbial Food Safety Laboratory with the Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture
“Perhaps the greatest strength of the LGMA program is the timely engagement of multi-disciplinary experts and extensive review of the scientific literature used to develop and update the Guidelines,” stated Dr. Russell.
The panel met to review the most recent version of the 2015 Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens, between July and September, 2015. The panel was conducted by IDS Decision Sciences, and Western Growers.
The panel also suggested certain modifications and updates to the Guidelines in accordance to new food safety findings. The Vice President of Strategic Planning, Science, and Technology at Western Growers, Hank Giclas, said that LGMA was pleased with the panel results and appreciative of their comments.
“The LGMA Guidelines were designed so they can be updated whenever new research becomes available,” said Giclas. The Guidelines have been updated 12 times since LGMA was established in 2007.
A copy of the panel report is available here.