CEA Food Safety Coalition Debuts Food Safety Standards for Indoor-Grown Produce
WASHINGTON, DC - The CEA Food Safety Coalition is dedicated to protecting the integrity of controlled environment agriculture. Aiming to make this goal even more attainable for its partners, the coalition recently launched a new food safety certification program specifically for CEA-grown leafy greens. Members can choose to be assessed for the CEA Leafy Greens Module, and upon successful completion will be allowed to use the CEA food safe seal on certified product packaging. The Leafy Greens Module is measured against science-based criteria and is an add-on to existing compliance with an underlying Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety standard.
“Current food safety standards were written for the field, and many do not address the unique attributes of controlled, indoor environments,” said Marni Karlin, Executive Director of the coalition. “This new certification process and the accompanying on-pack seal helps to unify CEA growers while also differentiating them from traditional field agriculture. It also better informs consumers and provides a quick-glance image to know when produce has been grown safely indoors, with a high standard of quality and without some of the hazards of the field, such as potential contamination from animal byproducts.”
Traditional food safety risk profiles include examining the physical hazards and microbial hazards from water use, herbicide, and pesticide use, and impact from animals and animal byproducts, many elements that do not impact CEA growers in the same way, if at all. A press release explained that the CEA Leafy Greens Module enables CEA growers to distinguish produce grown indoors while ensuring the highest standard of quality and compliance is achieved.
Controlled environment agriculture takes a technology-based approach to produce optimal growing conditions inside controlled environments such as greenhouses and indoor vertical farms. Plants are typically grown year-round using hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic methods, without the need for pesticides and unaffected by climate or weather.
The certification program is available to all CEA FSC members for a nominal cost and must be completed on an annual basis. CEA growers can be assessed for multiple sites across four key areas, including:
- Hazard analysis: use of water, nutrients, growing media, seeds, inputs, site control, and other relevant factors
- Water: all contact with the plant and with food contact surfaces. The use of recirculating water will require a continuing hazard analysis. Will also require zone-based environmental monitoring based on company-specific risk assessment
- Site control / Infrastructure / System Design: all food contact surfaces and adjacent food contact surfaces, including plant containers. Will also assess associated farm physical hazards, including lighting, robotics, sensors, equipment, and utensils, etc
- Pesticide Use / Testing: the use of pesticides or herbicides during the plant life cycle
“The CEA industry is rapidly expanding and predicted to support more than 10 percent of U.S. vegetable and herb production by 2025,” said Rebecca Anderson, Technical Key Account Manager for GLOBALG.A.P. North America. “The CEA FSC Leafy Green Module will set a new industry standard for CEA-grown produce while driving consumer awareness of the innovations happening in indoor agriculture today.”
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