FDA/USDA Officials Visit California Leafy Greens Fields
With new food safety laws on the horizon, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement this week hosted another group of federal officials and staffers who are working to create the new laws. For two days, staff from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Ag Marketing Services toured leafy greens fields in the Salinas area to learn more about the rigorous food safety practices required by LGMA members; view a USDA audit of leafy greens farming operations, discuss compliance and enforcement issues and participate in a training workshop to ensure leafy greens farm employees are up-to-date with the required food safety practices.
These kinds of tours are important because they give officials who are developing new food safety laws a first-hand look the system of government auditors who verify a set of science-based food safety practices are being followed on leafy greens farms to ensure the safety of these products for consumers. And the LGMA very much wanted officials from these two agencies to witness this example of how USDA auditors can effectively work with FDA to provide assurances that compliance of food safety laws is verified on farms. This system has worked very well in the leafy greens industry for the past six years.
That is why the LGMA is proposing FDA recognize the LGMA food safety model and that, once new Food Safety Modernization Act rules are finalized, LGMA-certified leafy greens handlers be considered compliant with the new law. The LGMA food safety model that is in place in both California and Arizona not only meets the proposed requirements of FSMA, but they exceed the requirements of this new law. These programs ensure that over 90 percent of the leafy greens grown in the U.S. are produced under a system of mandatory government inspection and the system is paid for by industry funds.