Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Forms Adjacent Lands Subcommittee to Make Romaine Safer
SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is appointing a special new subcommittee to investigate the role land adjacent to leafy greens farms plays in contributing to foodborne illness outbreaks.
“The role of the LGMA’s Adjacent Lands Subcommittee is to review current LGMA standards related to grazing lands and adjacent properties, gather all relevant research done by CPS or other entities and consult with stakeholders for additional input,” said Sharan Lanini, Pacific International Marketing, who serves as the Chair of the LGMA’s Technical Committee and will be leading this important effort. “As part of this effort, the subcommittee plans to look at a number of factors including distance; slope and other physical properties; the impact of weather; potential barriers such as berms, diversion ditches, or vegetative strips; and ‘good neighbor’ policies as they relate to properties located near leafy greens farming operations.”
According to a press release, the LGMA’s new committee is part of a comprehensive review of all existing food safety practices required under the LGMA program and is in direct response to findings from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report issued last week. This FDA report detailed the FDA’s investigation of the three distinct outbreaks that occurred in the fall of 2019.
In the report, the e. coli strain linked to one of these outbreaks, along with other STEC strains, was detected in samples taken from cattle grazing land in proximity to where romaine lettuce crops were grown. The FDA has stated it believes ruminants, most likely cattle, are the source of contamination in these outbreaks. However, exactly how the pathogens end up on leafy greens remains a mystery.
“Current requirements under the LGMA call for assessments of environmental conditions in and around leafy greens fields,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the LGMA. “But it’s clear more can be done to keep pathogens out of our farms. Leafy greens farmers work hard every day to implement the best-known food safety practices. Ultimately, the LGMA is the entity charged with updating and improving these standards to better protect consumers. The input provided by the FDA report and the work being done by our subcommittees, researchers, and other stakeholders is critical to prevent future outbreaks.”
Dan Sutton, General Manager for Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange and Chairman of the LGMA, added, “As leafy greens farmers, we are committed to doing everything possible to make sure our products are safe. If we knew what additional precautions could keep pathogens out of our fields, we would immediately make changes to our food safety program.”
The Subcommittee on Adjacent Lands is comprised of industry experts from LGMA member companies who will work closely with university and government researches in order to meticulously examine past and current studies from the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) and other relevant scientific research. In addition, the subcommittee will also engage with landowners of properties located near leafy greens farms. The subcommittee’s research, as with all areas of the LGMA’s required food safety practices, will provide recommendations as part of an open, collaborative process now underway for improving the safety of leafy greens—a process that is being facilitated by Western Growers.
Currently, this process is considering new standards for water used to grow leafy greens and for soil amendments and other crop inputs.
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