Members of an FMI food safety group visited Yuma, Ariz., fields to learn about LGMA practices. ( Courtesy California LGMA )

FMI, recently rebranded as The Food Industry Association, recently released food safety priorities for the year, singling out leafy greens as one of four main focuses.

FMI, which released its recommendations for leafy greens food safety in August, asks members to encourage suppliers to belong to the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements.

“We applaud the thorough review conducted by this organization to provide their membership with the most updated information possible,” California LGMA marketing communications director April Ward wrote in a Feb. 28 blog post. “The LGMA is in agreement that more needs to be done and we value our continued relationship with this organization.”

Following a 2018 E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, a subgroup of FMI’s Food Protection Committee visited Yuma, Ariz., and Salinas, Calif., production areas to learn about the cause of outbreaks and challenges in preventing them, according to the LGMA blog.

“The FMI group spent a good amount of time with the LGMA, our government auditors, the team of food safety experts and scientists we work with and, of course, several of our members,” Ward wrote.

Hillary Thesmar, FMI’s senior vice president of food safety, called the LGMAs “foundational” programs following the field and facility visits through the LGMA.

“FMI believes the best system for our members is to require their leafy greens suppliers take part in a private audit program, such as GSFI, in combination with certification through the LGMA,” Thesmar said, according to the LGMA blog. “This provides assurances that suppliers have identified potential food safety hazards in their operations and that they are verifying proper practices are being followed on the farm.

The FMI’s other areas of focus on food safety are:

Listeria at retail: Prevention and control of Listeria Monocytogenes includes working with academics and regulators, and promoting adoption of best practices, including FMI’s Listeria Action Plan for Retailers;

Consumer advisories and supplier communication: FMI plans to address challenges in the supply chain when regulators issue commodity-specific advisories to consumers, and work with regulators to understand the best ways to protect public health; and

Smarter food safety: FMI late last year submitted comments on the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety, and its Food Protection Committee is focused on technologies and processes to advance food safety.

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