( Courtesy California LGMA )

Leafy green growers are pledging to follow recommendations that the Food and Drug Administration recently outlined in a report on E. coli outbreaks in romaine and other leafy Greens in 2019.

Leafy greens growers have been revising the industry’s Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement in California and Arizona, following recent outbreaks.

“Clearly we need to look even beyond our own farms to help us prevent future outbreaks,” Dan Sutton, general manager of Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange in San Luis Obispo County, said in a news release from the California LGMA. “Information from this new FDA report will be extremely valuable as we further strengthen our practices both in and around our farms.”

The FDA report, released May 21, releases results of investigations into three E. coli outbreaks, all linked to leafy greens from California. The FDA focused on nearby cattle grazing and livestock operations as a likely source. Although E. coli was found in irrigation water, buffer zones between cattle and leafy green fields, and other nearby areas, the FDA did not find a definitive source that led to the three outbreaks.

A series of research projects are designed to provide answers, and the University of Arizona, growers and the FDA are collaborating on a study, according to the news release.

A similar study is being developed for California’s Central Coast, Robert Verloop, chief operating officer and general manager of Coastline Family Farms, said in the release.

“We’re hopeful this kind of work can be done to provide us with answers to help prevent future outbreaks,” Verloop said in the release.
The LGMA has established subcommittees to review practices relating to agricultural water and other issue. The group is considering 30 changes on agricultural water.

“Even before these last outbreaks occurred, the leafy greens industry had launched a comprehensive process to review and update required food safety practices included under the LGMA,” Scott Horsfall, CEO of the LGMA, said in the release.

“The goal is to create unified standards for how leafy greens are farmed using the best science and expertise available,” he said in the release. “We will be relying on information supplied by FDA, scientists and others to help us improve these practices so we can further protect consumers.”

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