LGMA Partners with Western Growers to Offer Remote Food Safety Audits During Pandemic
IRVINE, CA - When it comes to food safety, efficiency is paramount. As it works to continuously accelerate food safety practices, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) partnered with Western Growers (WG) to develop a new process, alongside iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS), that streamlines all verification documents and data for online review by government auditors.
“When the LGMA began in 2007, it was the first program of its kind in the nation. As we navigate through these unprecedented circumstances, the LGMA program continues to find innovative ways to move forward and achieve its objective of advancing food safety for leafy greens products,” said Scott Horsfall, Chief Executive Officer of the California LGMA. “This new auditing system is another example of the pioneering spirit of the LGMA and its commitment to find new and better ways to enhance the safety of leafy greens.”
As stated in a press release, this process will allow the execution of remote audits and has been reviewed and accepted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which has oversight of the LGMA programs and auditors.
While in-person inspections may be temporarily limited to protect farm workers, office employees, and government auditors, much of the LGMA audits are focused on reviewing verification documentation, which can be presented in various forms, including large amounts of paperwork.
“As an industry leader in produce safety, Western Growers remains committed to leading produce safety initiatives and solutions,” said Sonia Salas, WG Assistant Vice President of Food Safety, Science, and Technology. “In a time where COVID-19 is testing all industries, this new auditing process will support food safety oversight during this pandemic.”
This system has been developed over the past few weeks, followed by extensive testing, and is now available to certified members of the LGMA who are audited an average of five times over the year.
“We were able to use this new process in a real audit situation and it worked extremely well from start to finish,” said Sharan Lanini, Director of Food Safety for Pacific International Marketing and Chair of the LGMA’s Technical Committee. “This is a great development in the government audit process.”
Diane Wetherington, Executive Chair of the iFoodDS Board, added, “The streamlining of data and verification documents online is a really positive outcome of our ‘new normal.’ The use of iFoodDS software will not only save the auditors time, but it will allow them to more efficiently assess compliance with LGMA food safety metrics through the use of a consistent online verification system.”
As our industry’s leaders continue to band together in the name of fresh produce safety, keep checking in on reports from AndNowUKnow.