Annual Report shows more Citations can be a Good Thing
The 2015/16 LGMA Annual Report is now available for review. It includes detailed information on LGMA audits and an analysis of all citations issued. LGMA audits are mandatory and are conducted by government auditors who verify that science-based food safety practices are implemented on the farm.
How the Audit System Works
Each LGMA member is audited an average of 5 times a year. There are 185 checkpoints in each audit. When an auditor identifies a checkpoint that is not in compliance with LGMA requirements, the member is issued a citation. Members are required to correct any citation issued, so in the end all certified LGMA Members have a score of 100%.
In order to gauge the industry’s performance as a whole, the LGMA reports every citation issued during the year. You can learn much more about this in the Citation Analysis section of the Annual Report.
The 2015/16 report covers the LGMA fiscal year from April 2015 – March of 2016. Here are some key points:
470 audits were conducted – slightly more than last year’s total of 467 audits.
The number of citations issued has steadily declined over the years. This year there was a slight increase with 385 citations compared to 370 the prior year.
On average, LGMA members received less than 1 citation per audit.
On average, LGMA members are in compliance with 99.5% of the total checkpoints audited. However, all citations must be corrected so compliance is actually 100%.
What are the Different Citation Levels?
LGMA audit citations are categorized according to the seriousness of the infraction. It’s been several years since a Flagrant Violation (the most serious category) has been issued. The next category – Major Deviations – has also been steadily declining over the years. In fact the number dropped to 13 this year, from 16 last year.
The final categories are Minor Deviations and Minor Infractions. A violation in either category does not necessarily result in unsafe product. The primary difference is that corrections for the lowest category – Minor Infractions – can be made before the auditor leaves the farm, while for Minor Deviations, the handler is given 5 days to provide a corrective action plan.
Like all citations, both of these categories have been steadily declining over the years. This year we saw a 29% increase in the number of Minor Deviation citations issued, but this increase actually happened on purpose.
Why is an Increase in Citations a Good Thing?
Now that the LGMA has been in existence for nearly 10 years, we think it’s important for us to do all we can to make sure members don’t become complacent – especially when it comes to the minor, less serious infractions.
So rather than allowing minor corrections to continue being made in the field during an audit, we wanted handlers to go back and train people not to make these same mistakes again. We know that training can make a big difference in how leafy greens workers comply with required food safety practices as it helps ingrain the proper procedures into their everyday work habits.
This year, we asked our Compliance Officer – Jonathan Field – to take a harder look at some of the infractions that could be avoided with better training. Whenever appropriate, Jon took what was once a Minor Infraction that could be corrected in the field and moved it up to a Minor Deviation, which requires handlers to demonstrate they had provided additional training to correct the problem.
As a result, we saw more citations in the Minor Deviation category. We believe this will help us to continue to drive improvement in the industry and through training we’re working to correct problems permanently.
Check out the latest video in our Food Safety Dialogue Series. This one features the LGMA Compliance Officer talking about what is new in the area of compliance:
Also see what our Technical Committee Chairwoman Megan Chedwick, of Church Brothers, has to say about compliance and training: