The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement recently started its sixth year, and the occasion passed without the much-anticipated federal food safety rules.
“The new rules under the Food Safety Modernization Action haven’t appeared yet, and we expected those months ago,” said Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer of the Sacramento-based LGMA.
“Like all of the produce industry, we’re eager to see what the federal government is going to publish in the way of new regulations so we can figure out how to mesh with those.”
Through the process, LGMA has stayed in contact with the Food and Drug Administration.
“Last year we met with a good group of FDA personnel from various parts of the agency, all of whom work on food safety rules,” Horsfall said. “We’d like to do that again and keep reaching out.”
The LGMA retains the support of growers, he said.
“We do everything we can to make sure the industry follows food safety practices,” Horsfall said. “I’m also confident we’re doing everything and more that the new rules will require, but until we see them we don’t know.”
During peak season in Salinas and Santa Maria, the organization’s efforts are focused on audits. But that’s not the whole story.
The LGMA recently completed a series of food safety workshops conducted across California focusing on worker practices in the field, and more are planned for the fall.
“We’re doing more training and education programs this year,” Horsfall said. “From our audits, we have a historical record now of compliance, and we’re more sophisticated at drawing from our database.
“Where we see issues, where we see nonconformity — we’re doing a better job of turning that into specific training elements that we take back out to the industry.”
With high turnover in the fields, training is an ongoing need.
The organization plans to offer its annual leafy greens tour for buyers in September.