The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently conducted a food safety investigation related to multiple outbreaks of E. coli. FDA’s report details areas within leafy greens production that need to be closely monitored moving forward. Industry members have been proactive in implementing improved safety measures to prevent future outbreaks.
“We are hearing the FDA loud and clear, and we are working on it,” said California Leafy Greens Marketing Association (LGMA) Chairman, Dan Sutton. “We do want to prevent this. We do want to protect our consumers. We do want to protect public safety and health. We want to learn what we don’t know and apply that to what we do so that we can do our best to prevent this from happening.”
Recommendations for improving food safety from FDA are being taken to heart by producers. The health and safety of consumers is an important priority; however, growers also have another vested interest in safe production practices. “The very romaine that I am growing to put out into the marketplace is the exact same romaine that I’m bringing home to my family to eat and when these types of the events occur, it hits home,” Sutton explained.
Growers are actively engaged in efforts to improve food safety within leafy greens production. Industry-led initiatives are continually being developed and enhanced to respond to safety concerns. California LGMA recently endorsed new Pre-Harvest Testing guidance for industry members. Sutton explained that concerns regarding food safety will not have simple, singular solution, but will require a coordinated approach.
“We are looking to a very broad spectrum, looking at this concern from multiple angles,” said Sutton. “By the time this is all said and done it is our hope that we really have some very defined science, some very defined things that we can do to address this concern. But we’re going to have to keep working in a collaborative manner to get to that point.”