Members of the Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force convened in late July to review recommendations for updates to the LGMA metrics. ( Marilyn Dolan )

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement has adopted the changes made by its Arizona counterpart in the wake of an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Arizona — with one exception.

In Arizona, LGMA members tripled the buffer zone for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from 400 feet to 1,200 feet. That’s also the case for California now, unless the CAFOs have 80,000 or more head of cattle. Those operations now trigger a one-mile buffer zone for California LGMA members.

California LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall said the CAFO rule was adopted out of “an abundance of caution,” and that its effect on current members should be minimal.

“We’re still in the process of determining the impact it might have,” Horsfall said in mid-October.

He stressed the importance of the 1,200-foot buffers in both states, and the overall metrics updates in both production areas. The changes were made in late September, and Horsfall said workshops and training seminars will help educate growers on the changes.

Those include:

  • More rigorous risk assessments on intense weather conditions;
  • Added measures for leafy greens grown near CAFOs;
  • More requirements on cleaning/sanitizing harvest equipment; and
  • Stronger traceback requirements.

The focus on CAFOs comes after the investigation into the cause of the E. coli outbreak this year. Inspections found the same strain of E. coli in the tainted romaine in an irrigation canal used for Yuma crops. That canal passes near a CAFO that has a capacity of at least 100,000 head, according to the Food and Drug Administration.