The interactive website aims to easily allow the public to participate in routine discussions and process amendments that will ensure continuous improvement of the leafy green food safety preventive practices.
Western Growers (WG), an organisation which represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, has developed a website to facilitate changes to the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA)-approved Leafy Green Food Safety Guidelines.
“As an industry leader in produce safety, Western Growers remains committed to driving the evolution of guidance for preventive food safety programmes in leafy greens as well as other commodities,” said Sonia Salas, WG’s Assistant Vice President of Food Safety, Science & Technology. “In a time where COVID-19 is top of mind for all industries, Western Growers is committed to ensuring that the important work of improving food safety continues with broad agricultural industry engagement and complete transparency among growers. This website will ensure access to that process.”
In 2007, following the E. coli O157:H7 spinach outbreak, WG facilitated the development of written best practices for the safe production and harvest of produce, currently known as the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens (Leafy Green Guidelines). These guidelines were subsequently adopted by both the California and Arizona LGMAs as the best practices for growers selling to handlers in their states.
Since its first publication, the Guidelines have been updated as new research has become available and practices have evolved. The website is now said to provide an avenue to systemically amend these best practices and allow users to easily submit comments. A new comment period opens in April 2020.
In addition to simplifying the Guidelines amendment process, the website also offers the following:
- Master Calendar: calendar that outlines the comment period and deadlines for issues related to agricultural water, field sanitation, soil amendments and concentrated animal feeding operations; entire amendment process at a glance
- LGMA Final Document: commodity-specific food safety guidelines for the production and harvest of lettuce and leafy greens
- Leafy Green Info Sheet: document explaining how the Leafy Green Food Safety Guidelines amendment process works and the importance of continual incorporation of new science and information.