New Resources Help LGMA Members Comply with Updated Metrics

Leafy greens production is winding down for the year in the central California regions and transition to the desert areas has started. This winter, leafy greens farms will be subject to a set of food safety practices (or metrics) that have been strengthened in several areas following the outbreak of e. coli associated with romaine lettuce from Yuma that occurred this past spring.

It’s critical that these new practices be adopted quickly into the culture of food safety that exists throughout the leafy greens community. To assist, the LGMA is distributing this week several resources designed to explain the new requirements and to equip LGMA members with information that will help them comply with the updated metrics.

New Food Safety Practices (Metrics)

First and foremost, all members have received an updated copy of the LGMA metrics which include the changes approved by the Board of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.  The changes to the LGMA food safety practices fall in five different areas as follows:

Please note the Arizona LGMA has adopted these same changes, with the one exception being that Arizona does not require an additional one-mile buffer zone for leafy greens that are farmed near a CAFO with 80,000 animals or more.

The LGMA is working diligently to make sure everyone understands the changes and how to comply with them. Based on recommendations of the Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force and working closely with Western Growers, the organization which develops the LGMA metrics, a series of documents has been created to provide guidance when farming leafy greens in proximity to a CAFO as well as what is expected when assessing the impact of weather conditions on leafy greens crops.

New Appendices

Two different appendices have been developed:

Appendix G: Considerations for Evaluating Potential Contamination Risk Related to CAFOs

Appendix F: Considerations for Assessing the Effects of Weather Conditions on Environmental Sources of Human Pathogens

These documents are designed to help leafy greens handlers evaluate conditions on their farms and utilize different scenarios or situations to explain what growers should consider when developing SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that are required under the new metrics.

Sample SOPs and Assessment Form

Three additional documents have also been created and made available to industry members. These include sample SOPs focused on pre-harvest weather assessments and on CAFOs. The third document is a sample pre-harvest assessment form.

LGMA Members are not required to use these SOPs, of course, but they show the types of information that risk assessments should include.

Training

The LGMA is planning to hold workshops Yuma and El Centro to help member companies and their growers navigate these changes. All documents regarding the new metrics have been posted to the LGMA’s website and LGMA members have been notified where they can find them.

Compliance

The new LGMA audit checklist reflecting these changes is currently being updated by the USDA and audits to these new standards will begin January 1, 2019. In Arizona, all of their 2018/19 audits will include the updated Metrics.

The LGMA encourages members with questions to reach out to the LGMA staff at any time.  We are here to help in making sure the new standards are quickly adopted so that consumers can continue to enjoy safe leafy greens with confidence.


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