The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released new plans for addressing leafy greens food safety to help strengthen efforts to mitigate foodborne illness. In response to the repeated outbreaks of E. coli related to romaine lettuce over the past few years, FDA is taking action to bolster efforts to prevent continued outbreaks.
The 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan focuses on prevention, response protocol, and addressing knowledge gaps in contamination. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas said that “We are laser-focused on improving our prevention, response and research efforts with a multi-faceted approach to help keep leafy greens safe for generations to come.”
The plan includes enhancing inspections, audits, and certification programs, and collecting that information in a centralized ‘Leafy Green Data Trust.’ The new leafy greens food safety approach will also include meeting with different growers to address issues that are specific to their regions. FDA will also be working to better understand what types of potential risks are associated with adjacent land uses, particularly as it related to nearby livestock operations.
The leafy greens industry appears more than willing to improve safety protocols to help protect products from contamination. In response to the action plan from FDA, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has issued a letter of support for any actions that will help to prevent any future outbreaks of food illness associated with leafy greens products.
“FDA’s Action Plan lays out a pathway forward built on stronger collaboration and cooperation among the grower community, CA and AZ LGMA’s, researchers and a host of state and national government agencies. The LGMA applauds the efforts of Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas and his colleagues to make the process inclusive and in partnership with all stakeholders in the supply chain from field to store, restaurant and consumers,” the letter stated.