This article is authored by leadership of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement which includes Ryan Talley of Talley Farms, Chairman; Jamie Strachan of Growers Express, past Chairman; Ron Ratto, Ratto Bros, Vice Chairman; and Victor Tognazzini, Tri Valley Vegetable Harvesting, Secretary.
As farmers and producers and as parents and grandparents, food safety is the most important thing we do. Since the 2006 spinach outbreak, leafy greens farming in California has changed forever and we are firmly committed to the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement because it is the best model for producing safe food. Why? Because it works to establish a culture on our farms that puts food safety first.
We are concerned that some recent comments in a Food Safety News article with respect to the Canadian foodborne illness outbreak do not accurately reflect the sentiments of the leafy greens farming community.
Make no mistake, the LGMA does not take any outbreak or recall lightly. In this article, Food Safety News reporter Dan Flynn correctly stated: the LGMA may be the most stringent food safety program for leafy green producers on the planet. It includes mandatory government audits for lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens that follow a “best practices” model to reduce risk. It focuses on water, soil and other environmental conditions along with farm worker hygiene and harvest controls.
In the event leafy greens may be involved in a foodborne illness outbreak, trace back and recall capabilities that are a mandatory part of our program can be initiated by the company and, if necessary, removed from market channels to protect consumers. Information about any implicated farms is made available to authorities, and re-inspections can be done. If it is determined that an outbreak is the result of any on-farm practice, the food safety measures included in the LGMA program will be examined and, if necessary, changed.
We also want to reiterate the LGMA’s commitment to working with health officials to assist in determining the cause of any outbreak that may be associated with our product.
While it is not yet certain if this recent Canadian outbreak, which has sickened 28 people, has been definitively tied to a California leafy greens farm, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims of this outbreak. It is important that all consumers, and for these victims in particular, to know that the LGMA is working diligently with health officials in every way we can to accurately pinpoint the source of this outbreak. We will continue to work diligently to improve our systems and we will continue our commitment to producing the safest product possible. We vow to our consumers we will strive to do better every day.
Current officers of the California LGMA Advisory Board are:
Chairman — Ryan Talley. Talley works with his brother and cousin as a senior manager of Talley Farms, a farming business begun by his grandparents in 1948 in Arroyo Grande, California. Talley Farms is a grower, packer and shipper of vegetables marketed under the Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande and Talley Family Farms Organic labels.
Vice Chairman –Ron Ratto. Ratto is president of Modesto-based Ratto Bros., Inc., whose family began growing vegetables in California over 100 years ago and today produces a number of leafy greens products including chard, mustard greens, leaf lettuces and cabbage.
Secretary – Victor Tognazzini. Tognazzini is a founding LGMA board member. He was born and raised in Santa Maria, CA and is a descendent of a pioneer farming family that came to the central coast in the late 1800s. In addition to his farming activities he oversees the Tri-valley Vegetable Harvesting operations and is the founder and director of Food Safety Consulting Services. Past Chairman –
Jamie Strachan. Strachan is the most recent past chairman of the LGMA and is Chief Executive Officer of Green Giant® Fresh, offering over 50 varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables grown by the nation’s top growers© Food Safety News