2017: An Important Year for the LGMA

On July 23, 2007…

For the first time in history, U.S. government officials visited a California leafy greens farm and conducted a mandatory audit to verify that a set of science-based food safety practices had been implemented in the production of the lettuce grown in that field.

Today, this is a common occurrence on leafy greens farms throughout California and Arizona and, soon, every other produce farm in the nation will experience it as the Food Safety Modernization Act becomes reality.

In a recent four-part series appearing in The Packer, assistant Monterey County agricultural commissioner Bob Roach summed things up this way:

“California leafy green growers changed their industry in six months following the 2006 spinach crisis. The transformation of fresh produce growers on a national scale will be more difficult.”
-Bob Roach, Monterey County agricultural commissioner

The Packer’s series which looks back at the 2006 spinach crisis and what’s in store for the future of produce food safety, is interesting and contains some great insights on the creation of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement from the people who lived it.

Former Kroger Company executive Reggie Griffin, of Reggie Griffin Strategies, Hilton Head, S.C. called the development of the LGMA “spot on.”  While, Joe Pezzini of Ocean Mist Farms, who served as the first chairman of the LGMA, said:

“I don’t think any of us thought ten years ago that we were going to change our culture, but that is what has happened, and it is quite remarkable.”
– Joe Pezzini, CEO Ocean Mist Farms

We couldn’t agree more.

For the leafy greens community, 2017 is a very important year. We’re planning several activities to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the creation of this unprecedented commitment to protecting public health now well-known as simply, the LGMA.

Many, many people from throughout the California leafy greens industry participated in the creation of the LGMA because it truly was a collaborative effort that united an entire commodity sector.  And, while the LGMA was necessitated by a tragic event, the real reason this program exists today is because a group of committed individuals vowed to do everything possible to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.

Throughout our 10th anniversary year, the LGMA plans to recognize the leafy greens industry leaders, farmers, government officials and scientists who are committed to food safety through this program. Of course, we will also continue to support and honor groups like STOP Foodborne Illness who remind us every day why food safety is so important.

In the spirit of continuous improvement that has guided the LGMA along the way, we will also be announcing in the coming year new and improved training programs through the comprehensive LGMA Tech.  And, working with our valued industry partner Western Growers, a complete review of the existing metrics for leafy greens is being conducted to ensure the LGMA’s food safety practices continue to be based on the best available science and are in-line with new federal food safety regulations.

Please stay tuned – there’s a lot more to come. Happy New Year!

Note: Another piece on the LGMA’s impact on leafy greens safety appeared in January 4, 2017 edition of Western Farm Press. You can read the full article here

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