Food Safety Magazine

News | March 29, 2019

Leafy Greens Industry Working on New Water Guidelines

By Staff

Leafy Greens Industry Working on New Water Guidelines

This week, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) teased an upcoming announcement regarding changes and improvements to the leafy greens industry’s current water use guidelines, food safety practices, and metrics. Here is the short announcement published on Thursday:

Responding to issues of the past year, the leafy greens industry is continuing to address required water standards, particularly those related to use of surface waters. The LGMA is committed to strengthening its required food safety practices for all certified LGMA members who produce 99% of the leafy greens produced in California.

For the past three months, the leafy greens industries in California and Arizona have been developing new water guidelines. An industry group facilitated by Western Growers has taken the leading this effort, and there is broad agreement that using untreated surface waters for overhead irrigation during the final weeks of production presents an elevated risk. Changes to the LGMA’s required food safety practices (metrics) to reduce this risk are being developed with input from food safety scientists and several LGMA member companies.

The LGMA will make an announcement with specifics about the new metrics as soon as they are finalized and accepted by the LGMA Advisory Board. We are confident this can happen in the next four to six weeks.

Once accepted, the new metrics will be shared with the industry and they will become part of the mandatory government audits that are part of the LGMA food safety system. The LGMA will also begin an education and outreach effort to ensure all members of the leafy greens community understand how to comply with the new standards.

Although this short announcement does not mention it specifically, it can be speculated that the produce industry’s Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force is involved with the aforementioned changes. The Task Force is a team formed in May 2018 after an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce came about. The group’s goal is to “assess and address issues associated with recent foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to consumption of leafy greens and to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future.”

More on leafy greens:
Leafy Greens Industry Forms Task Force in Light of Romaine Lettuce Outbreak 

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