( Courtesy FDA/file photo )

As food safety audits of leafy greens continue during the pandemic, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement members have access to new tools streamlining the audit data.

The new data collection process is through a collaboration with iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS), the LGMA and Western Growers announced on May 18.

The process, which facilitates remote audits, has been approved for use by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which oversees audits of LGMA members, according to a news release.

In-person inspections are limited because of the pandemic, but much of the LGMA audits focus on reviewing verification documents.

“In a time where COVID-19 is testing all industries, this new auditing process will support food safety oversight during this pandemic,” Sonia Salas, assistant vice president of food safety, science and technology for Western Growers, said in the release.

The system was developed and tested in recent weeks. Sharan Lanini, the director of food safety for Pacific International Marketing and chairwoman of the LGMA’s technical committee, said in the release the program worked “extremely well from start to finish” during testing.

Streamlining of data and documents is a positive outcome of where the industry is now, according to Diane Wetherington, executive chairwoman of the IFoodDS board.

“The use of iFoodDS software will not only save the auditors time, but it will allow them to more efficiently assess compliance with LGMA food safety metrics through the use of a consistent online verification system,” she said in the release.

LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall said the program has been finding innovative ways to operate during the pandemic.

“This new auditing system is another example of the pioneering spirit of the LGMA and its commitment to find new and better ways to enhance the safety of leafy greens,” Horsfall said in the release.

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