Leafy Greens Marketing Agreeement Details Processes Underway to Further Strengthen Food Safety Requirements for Leafy Greens
SACRAMENTO, CA - An important aspect of our industry is ensuring the safety of the consumers eating our products. California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has continued investing in this mission for years and is doubling down even harder on strengthening food safety practices.
“California’s leafy greens farmers are hard at work every day implementing new, more stringent food safety practices on their farms,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO. “At the same time, we’re all focused on further strengthening the food safety standards required under the LGMA to protect consumers and prevent future outbreaks.”
In order to review and update these required food safety practices for farming leafy greens, the association has put together a webinar series to gather input. A subcommittee of industry experts and scientists has been reviewing existing LGMA water metrics since August and already have proposed changes to existing requirements.
“Some 30 suggested changes for water use have been recommended by this subcommittee on water,” said Sharan Lanini, Director of Food Safety at Pacific International Marketing and Chair of the LGMA’ Technical Committee. “The recommendations include updated requirements for drip and furrow irrigation as well as water used for chemical applications. These updates are in addition to enhanced water metrics adopted by the LGMA last year for sprinkler applied water treatments during the last 21 days prior to harvest.”
Below are additional actions conducted by the LGMA to strengthen food safety practices:
- Appointed subcommittees to address several topics including water, equipment sanitation, soil amendments/crop inputs, adjacent land use, and proximity to animals
- These subcommittees include industry experts from both California and Arizona who are systematically reviewing each section of the accepted food safety practices as well as other potential food safety issues of concern from a scientific perspective
- The LGMA’s subcommittee on soil amendments/crop inputs has met several times since December 2019, and is looking to develop more detailed standards to address requirements for existing best practices that include compost applications; other crop and soil inputs; storage, handling, and transportation; container ID and tracking; and inputs applied to neighboring properties
- A subcommittee on equipment, packing materials, and field sanitation is looking to develop enhanced standards related to harvest equipment, harvest personnel, and training that also encompasses human vectored pathogens such as Cyclospora and COVID-19
- The public comment period for water has just ended, and the one on harvest related equipment sanitation practices is open through the end of May. Future comment periods will cover the topics of soil amendments/crop inputs and adjacent property/CAFOs. LGMA subcommittees will make recommendations in all of these areas
A press release noted that the process for updating the LGMA standards is being facilitated by Western Growers as an independent party to solicit and collect input from all stakeholders.
“The goal is to create unified standards for how leafy greens are farmed using the best science and expertise available from throughout the leafy greens community,” stated Horsfall. “Water is just the first topic to be addressed. This same process is planned for other areas of the LGMA metrics.”
Through this collaborative process, recommended changes will be finalized and presented to LGMA for adoption. Those approved updates will then become part of the required food safety practices and included in mandatory inspections for LGMA members.
Horsfall went on to emphasize that safety audits conducted through the LGMA program are still taking place even with the COVID-19 situation. Each LGMA member will be audited about five times this year, through both announced and unannounced field audits, and every farmer will be audited at least once.
“The real work of implementing food safety practices is being done every day by leafy greens farmers,” said Horsfall. “The role of the LGMA is to unify the industry under one common set of science-based food safety practices.”
AndNowUKnow will follow along as advancements in food safety tech continue to revolutionize the industry.