More than 50 recommendations in the areas of farm water use and field/equipment sanitation have been accepted by members of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA). The action comes after 2019 outbreaks of E-coli-contaminated romaine lettuce.
Although many of the changes strengthen existing language or provide additional guidance and direction for leafy greens food safety, several substantive changes were approved by the LGMA Board says CEO Scott Horsfall. They include:
- Adoption of new requirements that ensure the safety of water used during overhead application of pesticides and crop protection materials. This update is similar to changes approved by the LGMA last year requiring that any water from open sources – such as a canal or reservoir -- applied via overhead application must be treated to eliminate pathogens during the previous 21 days before harvest.
- Approved enhancements to monitoring requirements for water used in farming leafy greens to ensure that regular water quality tests are conducted and that samples are collected throughout the irrigation systems used in leafy greens fields.
- Added language to minimize the risk of water applied via furrow irrigation from coming into contact with any edible portion of the leafy greens plant.
- Updated best practices for cleaning harvest equipment, containers, tools and bathroom facilities in and near leafy greens fields.
- New language designed to prevent the cut end of leafy greens product from coming into contact with the ground during harvest.
Similar changes were also adopted by the Arizona LGMA. Together, these two states produce about 90 per cent of the leafy greens in the United States. More updates are expected as subcommittees report on soil amendments/inputs and adjacent land.
Source: California Leafy Greens Agreement August 24, 2020 news release