(Feb. 27, 12:37 p.m.) After conducting a survey of industry members, the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement, Sacramento, released its first status report that stated there have been no foodborne illness outbreaks since mandatory government audits began in July.

Scott Horsfall, the agreement’s chief executive officer, said the report, which was released Feb. 26, shows the leafy green industry has made great strides and audits demonstrate strong compliance.

“We also see that we have room to improve,” he said. “We have had to cite people for over 400 different types of nonconformity issues, but the vast majority is minor.”

The group was formed after a 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to fresh spinach grown and bagged in California.

“The most important news, of course, is that there were no reported foodborne illnesses associated with California leafy greens in 2007,” he said.

The leafy greens group, with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, verified through audits that growers are following accepted food safety practices for lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens.

According to the report, certified government inspectors performed 368 audits between July 23 and Dec. 31, resulting in 457 citations of nonconformities. None, however, involved unsafe product being shipped. Most citations were for incomplete or incorrect record keeping.

“The LGMA represents an unprecedented commitment to food safety,” Horsfall wrote in the report. “Nearly 120 handlers representing more than 99% of the volume of California lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens have joined the organization, committing themselves to handle and sell products grown in accordance with a set of good agricultural practices.”

The status report is available at www. caleafygreens.ca.gov.