The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement has made more than 50 changes to rules as the group continues a review of its practices following E. coli outbreaks in recent years.
The Arizona LGMA has made similar changes, according to a news release.
The LGMA established subcommittees this year to address specific parts of the food safety process, and the ones for farm water use and field/equipment sanitation have met numerous times in recent months, according to CEO Scott Horsfall. They focused on new research, examine outbreak findings and gather input from food safety experts, he said in the release.
Many of the changes approved by the LGMA board recently strengthen existing rules, several substantive changes have been made, according to the release.
Those changes include:
- Requirements to ensure the safety of water used during overhead application of pesticides and crop protection materials, similar to rules added last year that require open water sources — such as a canal or reservoir — applied via overhead application must be treated to eliminate pathogens during the previous 21 days before harvest;
- Added regular water quality tests and sample collecting requirements throughout irrigation systems;
- Addressed the risk of water applied via furrow irrigation from coming into contact with any edible portion of leafy greens;
- Updated practices for cleaning harvest equipment, containers, tools and bathroom facilities in and near leafy greens fields; and
- Preventing the cut end of leafy greens from coming into contact with the ground during harvest.
“The LGMA is committed to strengthening required food safety practices throughout our processes,” Dan Sutton, California LGMA chairman and general manager of Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange in San Luis Obispo County. “We are doing everything possible on our farms to prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks.”
The LGMA will be educating members on how to comply with the new standards.
Subcommittees on soils amendments/inputs and adjacent lands are working on more changes to LGMA standards. The group is interested in adjacent lands that have livestock, and how to ensure E. coli isn’t transferred to crops via water or other means.