New Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Survey Shows Traceability Systems In Place on California Farms
SACRAMENTO, CA - With food safety top-of-mind for growers, retailers, and consumers, the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has compiled the results of a recent member survey which details that producers are capable of quickly tracking product involved in an outbreak or recall. The systems allow producers to quickly track products that have been involved in an outbreak or recall, tracing them from the field where it was grown to the first customer who received it.
“Verification that a traceback system is in place happens every time an LGMA member is audited by the government, which occurs about five times per year under our program,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of LGMA.“We can say with confidence that 100 percent of our members have a traceback system in place. Through this survey we hoped to better understand how leafy greens producers’ traceback systems are contributing to outbreak investigations and determine if there are additional requirements that could improve the speed and accuracy in finding the source of future outbreaks that may be linked to leafy green farms.”
The LGMA survey was sent out to each member to assess their traceability systems.
Of the 93 LGMA members, 52 of them responded, all of which answered a series of questions related to their respective systems. According to a press release, those who responded represented a wide demographic of operation types and sizes.
“The goal of this Leafy Greens Traceability Pilot is to explore what traceback information is needed to assist government investigations and to test how that information can quickly be shared in a format that allows it to connect the supply chain,” said Jennifer McEntire, Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology, United Fresh Produce Association, who is helping to coordinate the pilot. “The insights from the pilots will aid in more quickly and effectively locating the source of contamination during an actual outbreak.”
The survey found that the traceback systems in use are able to record information on activities including growing and harvesting products, and all of the systems reported can identify the grower, ranch, or field, and date of harvest for each crop.
96 percent of the traceability systems were able to even record information about the harvest crew that handled the produce.
LGMA’s survey went out after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration emphasized the importance of traceability systems in investigating future outbreaks.
“What we can conclude from this survey is that LGMA members are collecting detailed information through their traceback systems” said Horsfall. “But, in practice the system is not working as quickly as needed to prevent illnesses and identify the source of contamination. This underscores the need for the LGMA and the leafy greens industry to work more closely with the FDA to determine how traceback systems at the production end can better assist outbreak investigations.”
Of those who responded to the survey, 63 percent were still utilizing the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) for tracking and labeling its produce. The system was developed almost a decade ago to help standardize tracing through the supply chain, and LGMA has reported that it is working to create more advanced systems that could further help with future investigations and more accurate tracking.
To view the rest of the results from the survey, click here.
As food safety and tracking continue to take the spotlight, what new innovations will be developed to help growers in their traceability efforts? Keep reading ANUK for the latest updates.