- January 19, 2019
- Posted by: Sage Shield Safety Consultants
- Category: Overseas Occupational Health And Safety News
SACRAMENTO, Calif.– News of the government shutdown’s effect on federal public health firms has raised concerns about the security of the U.S. food supply. Leafy greens manufacturers want customers to know the shutdown is not having an influence on efforts to prevent foodborne disease break outs on their farms. The market has considerably stepped up efforts to enhance leafy greens safety following two recent outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce.
“Government food safety audits of leafy greens fields in the southern desert locations of California and Yuma, AZ are continuing as usual,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Arrangement. “These efforts are not affected by the present federal government shutdown and, the leafy greens neighborhood continues to work vigilantly to protect public health.”
California and Arizona produce over 90 percent of leafy greens, like romaine, grown in the U.S. Growers in these states go through a stringent food security program understood as the Leafy Greens Marketing Contract, or LGMA. Under this program, leafy greens manufacturers are needed to follow a set of science-based food security practices and their farms are inspected by federal government auditors to guarantee the practices are being followed.
“The audits are conducted by federal government authorities employed by the state departments of farming in California and Arizona who are not associated with the existing federal government shutdown,” explained Horsfall. “This indicates that government audits are regularly taking place in leafy greens fields to validate farmers are following all 150 food safety checkpoints that become part of each LGMA audit. Each member of the LGMA is audited an average of five times throughout the year.”
Following last spring’s E. coli outbreak that affected romaine lettuce from Yuma, AZ, the LGMA added additional requirements to its program that call for enhanced watering water testing and increased buffers between large animal operations and leafy greens farms.
“These brand-new requirements belong to the federal government audits happening today,” stated Horsfall, including the industry continues to analyze its practices and a group of market specialists is currently examining existing food safety practices– especially those involving water screening– so that extra safeguards can be added to the program.
“The leafy greens neighborhood is completely devoted to avoiding future foodborne health problem outbreaks. The LGMA program was developed as a system to impose food safety practices throughout the market,” said Steve Church, a manufacturer of leafy greens and chairman of the California LGMA. “Nobody wants to avoid break outs related to leafy greens more than we do. These current break outs have actually been awful for individuals impacted by diseases and pricey to producers and our retail and foodservice consumers. We are working as hard as we can to avoid these kinds of outbreaks from ever taking place again.”