The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced targeted sampling of leafy greens grown on farms and ranches during the fall 2022 harvest season in the Salinas Valley region of California, releasing results from a 2021 sampling assignment, and providing an update on other work under the action plan.

This is part of the FDA’s goal to enhance the safety of leafy greens through the continued implementation of the Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan (LGAP). 

During the fall 2022 harvest season, the FDA plans to collect about 240 lettuce samples from farms and ranches in the Salinas Valley.  These farms and ranches were identified by traceback investigations in recent years as being potentially associated with foodborne illness outbreaks in which lettuce or leafy greens were the likely or suspected food vehicle. The FDA also may collect environmental samples such as water, soil, and scat, as appropriate, based on observations made at the time of sampling and a farm/ranch’s past inspection history. All samples will be tested for Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 and sampling will begin in mid-September and run through October.

The sampling efforts seek to detect and prevent contaminated product from reaching consumers and help leafy greens growers and processors identify practices or conditions that may present microbial risks so they can strengthen the microbiological safety of their operations.

2021 Fiscal Year Assignment Summary Report

In 2021, the FDA conducted a different leafy greens sampling assignment and is releasing a summary report of the results. As part of this assignment, the agency collected lettuce from commercial coolers in the Salinas Valley growing area in California and tested samples for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. between May and November of 2021. The report describes the agency’s detection of Salmonella enterica in one green leaf sample and STEC in two other samples. In all cases, potentially contaminated product was destroyed and follow-up inspections were conducted.

More information on the 2021 report can be found here.

About the Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan
Continued outbreaks and ongoing concerns about leafy greens contamination emphasize the need for steadfast vigilance related to prevention across the supply chain, according to the FDA. Over the past two years the FDA has worked to enhance the safety of leafy greens through the Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan (LGAP).

Additional information on the action plan can be found on the FDA’s website.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)