FMI Food Safety Priorities for 2020 Include Leafy Green Safety



Written by April Ward

In the wake of recent foodborne illness outbreaks linked to produce items like leafy greens, food retailers and wholesalers continue to prioritize the health and safety of their customers. The FMI recently issued its Food Safety Priorities for 2020.

The LGMA is pleased to see certification in our program included in the recommendations provided by FMI which you can read here. We applaud the thorough review conducted by this organization to provide their membership with the most updated information possible. The LGMA is in agreement that more needs to be done and we value our continued relationship with this organization.

Immediately following the outbreaks of E. coli associated with romaine in 2018, FMI contacted the LGMA and asked if they could work with us to learn more about what the leafy greens community was doing to prevent future outbreaks. We welcomed the opportunity and members of a special subgroup of FMI’s Food Protection Committee visited LGMA operations both in Yuma and Salinas. They were very interested in learning everything they could about what caused the outbreaks, the challenges faced by industry in preventing foodborne illness and how the leafy greens community had responded by taking measures to strengthen its food safety practices.

The FMI group spent a good amount of time with the LGMA, our government auditors, the team of food safety experts and scientists we work with and, of course, several of our members.

FMI tour group standing in front of a Yuma, Arizona leafy greens field.
Members of the FMI Food Protection Committee came to Yuma, Arizona to see firsthand what is being done on the farm.

As part of their recommendations to member companies, who operate nearly 33,000 retail food stores and 12,000 pharmacies, FMI suggests that retailers and wholesalers encourage shippers/handlers in California and Arizona to become certified under the most current approved Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) metrics.

FMI recommends that members purchase leafy greens from growers who also are certified and have annual audits through “programs such as Harmonized Produce GAP; GFSI; SQF; Primus GFS; Global GAP; Global GAP HPSS; Canada GAP; Asia GAP or USDA Harmonized GAP Plus.”

Hillary Thesmar, Senior Vice President of Food Safety for FMI had this to say:

The LGMA is a program widely used in Arizona and California and we recognize it as a foundational program.

Thesmar noted that after seeing the important changes made to LGMA’s metrics following the 2018 outbreaks, FMI made the decision to include the food safety program as part of its recommendations to members. FMI encourages the LGMA to continue making improvements to address hazards that impact the safety of the water.

FMI believes the best system for our members is to require their leafy greens suppliers take part in a private audit program, such as GSFI, in combination with certification through the LGMA. This provides assurances that suppliers have identified potential food safety hazards in their operations and that they are verifying proper practices are being followed on the farm.

The LGMA acknowledges the romaine lettuce outbreaks and consumer advisories that led to the product withdrawals were devastating to consumers, farmers, retailers and wholesalers. The LGMA is committed to taking action to improve the safety of our products. For more information on efforts now underway by the LGMA and throughout the produce industry, please click here.

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