March 6, 2020

FDA outlines plan to combat leafy greens E. coli outbreaks

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its outline of a plan to reduce E. coli outbreaks in leafy greens on March 5.

Download the plan here.

In addition, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Association (LGMA) issued a statement on the development, applauding the work of the FDA. The statement is listed below.

“The leafy greens farming communities in California and Arizona welcome any action that helps prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks associated with our products. We value the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as detailed in its 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan released March 5.

“FDA’s Action Plan lays out a pathway forward built on stronger collaboration and cooperation among the grower community, California and Arizona LGMAs, researchers and a host of state and national government agencies. The LGMA applauds the efforts of Assistant Commissioner Frank Yiannas and his colleagues to make the process inclusive and in partnership with all stakeholders in the supply chain from field to store, restaurant and consumers.

“At its core, the LGMA is a partnership with government. We operate with oversight from the state departments of agriculture in California and Arizona. Our strength comes from the comprehensive audits conducted by state government employees. These audits, which include over 150 required food safety checkpoints, work to ensure a culture of food safety is adopted throughout the industry.

“Ultimately, LGMA is the entity charged with establishing and adapting food safety standards used in the production of leafy greens. We want these standards to be as strong as possible. Any input provided by the FDA including product testing data, research and information gathered through outbreak investigations is extremely useful as we work to improve our systems.

“LGMA required food safety practices are already the most stringent for any produce item in the world. Specifically, the LGMA program recently strengthened water quality standards well beyond what is contained in current federal regulations under the Produce Safety Rule. These new standards are currently being enforced by government agencies in both California and Arizona. The LGMA programs are continuing to further improve water standards and they are also looking at other practices concerning adjacent land use, compost and several other areas noted in the FDA Action Plan.

“In addition to our strong partnership with government, the LGMA is working cooperatively with other entities throughout the produce industry. Everyone is focused on how we can make leafy greens safer so that consumers are protected.”

Here is a list of ongoing actions being taken by the industry.