The Packer’s Tom Karst visited April 6 with Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.
Horsfall related how the staff of the LGMA has adapted to the shelter-at-home guidance in California related to the COVID-19. He also paid tribute to the grower community.
“Growers are in the midst of this difficult time; they are trying to follow the various advisories that come out that both state and federal level, and yet they’re out there harvesting crops and shipping crops to provide food to consumers, and I think they should be applauded for that,” Horsfall said.
Horsfall said the work of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement continues on in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re determined to continue our food safety oversight,” he said. “It is essential that these crops get harvested and shipped, and what we do has been deemed essential as well, in terms of making sure that crops are safe and for doing what we can to protect consumer health.”
At the same time, the LGMA is looking at ways to minimize human contact during food safety audits.
“(Auditors) still go to the farms but we working to do as much on a remote basis as we can do,” Horsfall said.
Every LGMA audit includes a great deal of documentation relative to water records, soil amendment records, pre-harvest assessments, and more.
“We’re looking to take as much of that off-site as we can,” Horsfall said. “There’s no real reason for two people to sit in a room and pass papers back and forth.”
Horsfall also spoke of the ongoing work to update the food safety metrics of the LGMA.
Western Growers has launched an interactive website that allows the public to participate in discussions relating to leafy greens food safety while allowing the industry to follow the process to strengthen those guidelines.
The site, www.leafygreenguidance.com, will track changes to the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens adopted by the California/Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements.
Horsfall said California industry leaders are hopeful that the COVID-19 pandemic made ease but said there are plenty of uncertainties ahead.
“Here in California, we’re seeing a definite flattening of the curve and some of the drastic steps that were taken out here, obviously have helped in that regard,” he said.