April 20, 2021

Pre-harvest leafy greens testing guidelines endorsed by California LGMA

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) board recently endorsed new Pre-Harvest Testing guidance in an effort to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks associated with leafy greens.

The guidance calls for pre-harvest testing of leafy greens products when risk assessments deem it necessary, specifically when grown in proximity to animals.

LGMA-logo-leafy-greens“We are endorsing pre-harvest testing in direct response to FDA’s recent report on E. coli outbreaks associated with lettuce in 2020, which identified the recurring E. coli strain implicated in this outbreak to be a reasonably foreseeable hazard,” said California LGMA Chairman Dan Sutton. “We want to send a clear message to FDA that our industry is, in fact, taking additional measures to prevent outbreaks.”

Focused on risk and adjacent lands

In addition to the Pre-Harvest Testing Guidance document, the LGMA Board endorsed several other updates to the food safety standards that are currently being developed by the LGMA Technical Committee and expected to become a requirement in the coming months.

Projects currently under development include:

  • An adjacent land risk assessment tool
  • Root cause analysis requirement for high-risk food safety incidents
  • Major revision to existing standards for soil amendments and crop inputs

These important tools and revisions have been in development for several months and they represent input from food safety experts and researchers throughout the industry.

“None of this could have happened without the tremendous work done by the LGMA’s Technical Committee to rapidly develop guidance for pre-harvesting testing and all efforts currently underway,” Sutton said. “Nor could this be accomplished without the commitment of LGMA members and farmers to produce safe food by implementing LGMA’s standards.”

Produce buyers’ role

The LGMA provides a unique system to enforce food safety practices on California and Arizona farms that produce over 90% of the leafy greens consumed in the U.S.

“When produce buyers require LGMA certification of their suppliers they reinforce best practices on leafy greens farms. Simply put, when buyers support the LGMA, they support a system that offers the fastest and best means to reduce incidents of foodborne illness,” said Tim York, California LGMA CEO.

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