#2 story of 2009: National food safety standards inch forward

01/04/2010 01:08:17 PM
Dan Galbraith

The House passed a food safety bill July 30.

In June, the voluntary national leafy greens marketing agreement aimed at food safety appeared to garner wide support.

“It is practical, given the volume of leafy greens from California and Arizona are already covered, that most of the industry is covered but not all of it,” said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., one of the groups backing the proposal.

About 90% of the nation’s leafy green production is from California and Arizona, Means said, leaving about 10% that could be covered through the national agreement.

“It’s something the industry recognized that this is the way to standardize production practices,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., a backer of the agreement.

A June 8 news release from Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers and the groups said a national agreement is the best way to “implement best practices and a corresponding verification program that could reduce the potential for microbial contamination in these crops.”

The movement for national standards began to take shape in late 2008, when the Leafy Greens Council proposed a national marketing agreement modeled on the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement.

The proposal for a nationwide agreement was discussed at the St. Paul, Minn.-based council’s Oct. 26 meeting during PMA Fresh Summit 2008.


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