UPDATED: USDA halts national LGMA - The Packer

UPDATED: USDA halts national LGMA

12/04/2013 06:10:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Hall is also executive director of the Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association, representing food safety efforts in the wake of several foodborne illness outbreaks linked to cantaloupes.

"Because we have FSMA to provide regulations, I think terminating the national agreement is appropriate," Hall said.

“Since the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed by President Obama and draft produce safety rules were released for comment, it seemed like the national LGMA was kind of a moot point," said Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer at Ocean Mist Farms and former California LGMA chairman. "The fallback now is the produce safety rules. We don’t really know what those are going to be; the FDA might even make an interim ruling. What we had envisioned as a national leafy greens marketing agreement will have to be covered by this produce safety rule.”

Although the USDA’s decision doesn’t directly effect the California/Arizona leafy green industry, it does raise questions about how the FSMA will address issues specifically related to leafy greens across the country.

“Hopefully, with the termination of this rule proceeding, USDA can reengage in food safety in a meaningful way and work constructively with reluctant parties to foster a culture and commitment to food safety,” Nassif said in his statement.

FSMA, Nassif said, faces many of the same opponents that a national LGMA faced.

“It is time to stop saying no to food safety on the farm and engage in the development of preventive programs at all levels,” he said.

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USA  |  December, 05, 2013 at 12:30 PM

It looks like, USDA noticed in the last months and years, the LGMA didn't made the produce safer with all the recalls we had. It was just another attempt to stop FSMA.

usa  |  December, 05, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Yeah, the FSMA is going to stop all the recalls? Wow. Part of having recalls is proof that the food safety system is working. You can't honestly believe any food safety standard, especially a gov't run program, is going to prevent 100% of food adulteration....seriously! They could have modified the program in place but decided that gov't official knew more about leafy greens than the people that grow them. The real test is how many fewer people have been sickened by leafy greens since the program was put in place. Someone knows that number.

Virginia  |  December, 05, 2013 at 07:26 PM

You have to look at this from a consumer standpoint. There are too many food product trade organizations and what their role is isn't clear to anyone but the trade organizations themselves. So the consumer is supposed to look to the LGMA for marketing or quality control, or food safety or what. Remember the Beef and Pork and Corn and Wheat Check-offs, the consumers and a good number of producers never understood them and probably never benefited from them. I can understand a Washington State Apple Growers Association and I think a consumer can too, but the Leafy Greens Marketing Association - it's hard to comer up with a mental picture of that for a lot of people.

USA  |  December, 06, 2013 at 02:27 PM

LGMA ist just another certification using USDA to promote their products. If a small farmer can't afford one or many of these one-day-snap-shots of what's going on by a 3rd party, he can't sell to some of the big buyers. If he sells it cheap enough, then they don't care about any certification! All those certifications are worthless for the consumer, just a protection shield for the retailer in case there is something wrong. See Jensen Farms and others!

California  |  December, 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM

We believe the USDA’s action is appropriate. A lot has changed since the NLGMA program was conceptualized, largely because of FSMA. Consumers and industry members should know that the LGMA exists to protect public health. The most important part of our program is that drives a culture of food safety on the farm where everyone from the top down is focused on prevention and continuous improvement. Our program already meets or exceeds FSMA's requirements and we have asked FDA to consider certified LGMA members compliant with new food safety laws. With our proposal 90% of the Nation's leafy greens could quickly meet or exceed FSMA's requirements at no cost to taxpayers, leaving the FDA to focus on other areas of implementing the law.

usa  |  December, 13, 2013 at 02:20 PM

Cost to the taxpayer doesn't really matter to the FDA, does it? Isn't the plan to pass the cost of the government regulated FSMA on to the food producers anyway? That won't be cheap. The NLGMA was ahead of it's time and certainly set the model for many other food safety programs.

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