Pre-Harvest Testing Guidance to Bolster Leafy Greens Food Safety

Brian GermanField & Row Crops, Industry

California Leafy Greens Marketing Association (LGMA) recently endorsed new Pre-Harvest Testing guidance to help improve food safety. Recurring E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens have increased industry efforts to better address potential hazards. The new guidance provides parameters to determine risk when leafy greens are grown in proximity to animals.

Pre-Harvest Testing

“We are aware that adjacent land use is needing to be addressed and what this guidance does is actually gives a baseline for our entire leafy greens community to really look at your adjacent land uses,” said California LGMA Chairman, Dan Sutton. “What was given out will provide some baseline measurements that if these conditions exist, preharvest testing should be conducted.”

The additional food safety measures include an adjacent land risk assessment tool along with a root cause analysis requirement for high-risk food safety incidents. Other updates to safety standards also include a major revision to existing standards for soil amendments and crop inputs. “This is a way to get that information out, to put some guidance in place, and honestly to better our entire leafy greens community,” Sutton noted.

The Pre-Harvest Testing guidance that was recently released is just one component of the industry-wide effort to prevent foodborne illness. Adjacent land use has been a point of emphasis for California LGMA in recent years. A subcommittee was established back in 2019 for the purpose of specifically addressing concerns related to adjacent land use.

“What was released is actually just a small portion of the work that that subcommittee has been doing,” Sutton explained. “But we felt it was really important to at least get the guidance out for industry in what we had when it came to adjacent land use with animal operations. The committee has a much bigger set of guidance that will be coming out that’s being worked through, but we did have this part done.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West