Change is Happening: LGMA Food Safety Practices



Written by April Ward

LGMA member companies produce over 90% of the nation’s lettuce and leafy greens and are committed to food safety. In 2019, the LGMA programs in California and Arizona, along with our partners at Western Growers, put together a robust new process to completely review all areas of the LGMA Food Safety Practices in order to ensure that they reflect the most current science and are responsive to current issues.

LGMA Subcommittees Focus on Specific Food Safety Areas

This process involved expanding the existing LGMA Technical Committee into a series of subcommittees The four new subcommittees have been appointed (*or will be appointed) to focus on the areas of:

  1. Water
  2. Equipment Sanitation
  3. Crop Inputs
  4. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Adjacent Land Use*

Work of the Water Subcommittee

The Water Subcommittee was appointed first, in August of 2019, and has met extensively since then. The work of the Water Subcommittee has already culminated in many recommendations for changes that are necessary, including some glossary additions and some clarifications to existing rules.

Recommendations of the Water Subcommittee that are currently in the review process include:

New Best Practice Language

Drip irrigation

  • Drip tape should be handled, stored, used, and re-used in a manner that prevents damage and contamination to the drip tape.
  • While in use, repairs to drip tape should be completed in a timely manner to prevent water contact with the edible portion of the crop.

Furrow Irrigation

  • Agricultural practices, such as irrigation methods, bed configuration, etc., should be implemented in a manner to avoid water from breaching the top of the bed.
  • Agricultural practices, such as equipment movement, irrigation practices, etc., should be monitored at headland and tail ditch locations for damaged beds which may allow water to contact the edible portion of the crop.

Enhancements to Sampling Requirements for Systems-Based Water Use

  • Suggested additional language to allow for sampling at the next irrigation event if an irrigation event doesn’t occur within the monthly timeframe. (Excessive rain could cause this.)
  • Suggested changing the title of the section so focus is toward on farm water activities, not cooler or facility water use.
  • Suggested simplified requirements language
  • Suggested changing language to be similar with other parts of the water section
  • Suggested similar language and requirements as for irrigation water (Type A and B Water)
  • Treated Water

New Section for Chemical Application Water

A new section will be added that applies to aerial chemical application within 21 days of a scheduled harvest.

A detailed table of the proposed changes can be found here:

Western Growers facilitates changes to the LGMA Food Safety Practices

Western Growers, in direct partnership with the Arizona and California LGMAs, uses the website to manage a systematic amendment process for the Food Safety Practices based on a yearly calendar.

Proposed changes must meet certain criteria to be considered. Proposals should be:

  • comprehensive, auditable by government auditors
  • accompanied by a statement on how proposed changes will enhance food safety
  • include a clear and straightforward scientific basis or rationale, including citations of relevant research if available.

WG invites all stakeholders interested in leafy greens food safety practices to engage in this process.

Participation is Open and Encouraged

The leafy greens community is focused on providing the safest leafy greens possible – and this process is the way that all interested parties can impact the standards that are put in place. All stakeholders are encouraged to participate with the LGMA Subcommittees or through direct contact with Western Growers.

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