LGMA Statement in Response to FDA Environmental Report
Earlier this week the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement distributed information to our members about new food safety practice requirements being implemented in response to last spring’s E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from Yuma.
Just today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released an environmental report concerning the Yuma outbreak. The FDA report highlights areas of concern and opportunity for collaboration.
Last month, the California LGMA Board of Directors approved updated food safety practices with changes in five different areas that could have potentially contributed to the outbreak. The new Metrics are effective immediately; in California, verification of compliance will begin on January 1, 2019. The changes include requirements for additional risk management actions that must be taken when leafy greens are farmed in proximity to a concentrated animal operation, a tripling of the standard buffer distance between CAFOs and leafy greens, and requirements for treatment of some surface waters used for overhead irrigation water applied to leafy greens. More detailed information about the updated food safety practices can be found here.
Since we first learned of the outbreak, leafy greens producers have been working with government regulators to identify the cause of this tragic outbreak and have quickly acted to prevent future foodborne illnesses linked to our products.
California and Arizona provide 50 billion servings of leafy greens every year to American consumers. Safety is the LGMA’s top priority. One of the greatest benefits of the LGMA is that if we learn how and where problems may be occurring, we can quickly change our program.
Immediately upon learning of the outbreak, a Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force was formed and a team of farmers and food safety experts from throughout the produce industry have been working to learn everything we can about how romaine lettuce from Yuma came to be the cause of this outbreak. We are considering every possible avenue to strengthen existing foods safety practices required under the already stringent LGMA program. Several research projects are being considered to learn more.
The California leafy greens community is committed to making sure the food that goes on your family’s tables — and ours – is safe and healthy. LGMA members know a lot about keeping leafy greens safe and we are continually working to improve our program so that consumers can continue to enjoy leafy greens with confidence.