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USDA Rejects National Leafy Green Safety Program with Unexpected Timing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced it would not move forward with a proposal by the leafy greens industry to create the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).

First proposed more than four years ago, the initiative would have created a nationally recognized standard for safely growing leafy salad greens modeled after the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements (LGMA).

The timing of the announcement came as a surprise to some members of the leafy greens industry, as growers are currently waiting on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to release its final produce rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

“The timing was the one thing that surprised me,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California LGMA. “Personally, it made sense to let the NLGMA sit until the FSMA rules had been finalized.”

Some 90 percent of America’s leafy greens are already grown in California and Arizona, but many industry members thought it made sense to expand their program nationally.

In formal comments, the LGMA has already asked FDA to consider LGMA-certified growers to be compliant with FSMA rules.

“We go beyond what the FSMA produce rules require,” Horsfall said.

The LGMA requires government auditors with funding provided by the industry, meaning that no additional tax dollars are needed, Horsfall said.

Leafy greens industry representatives met with leaders at FDA to discuss the potential of recognizing LGMA rules and compliance. Horsfall said the industry had not seen anything to indicate that FDA would not consider the proposal, although it was too early to tell what they would decide.

© Food Safety News
  • FD

    How could it get thrown out? I guess the FDA again drops the ball in protecting us.

    • Gene

      Drops the ball? The FDA correctly determined that the fox watching the hen house is hardly an improvement.

  • Keith Warriner

    I think one point is that the LGMA has yet to prove if it is effective as a food safety system. Although outbreaks and recalls have been down this year it would be interesting to see data on how the LGMA has contributed (for example, how many batches of leafy greens were stopped before being processed by inspections)

  • John Mark Carter

    LGMA has been working in CA and AZ; outbreaks were already exquisitely uncommon, and now they’re even rarer. But LGMA is creeping in power and scope.
    Produce will never be perfectly safe, as long as it is grown outdoors, in the dirt, with the birds and the bees. As we approach 0% incidence, the incremental increases in food safety become more expensive. Bigger growers can afford to buy cleaner water and better managed operations, but the small guys pay the same amount for testing and inspection for a smaller crop. LGMA squeezes them. Unfortunately bigger farms appear more likely to have trouble managing nutrients, i.e., agricultural runoff.