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New food-safety practices guide California farmers in 2022

Near the end of the 2021 leafy greens growing season on California’s Central Coast, the LGMA program made updates to its food-safety standards. As the 2022 Central Coast growing season kicks off, LGMA members have several new requirements related to food safety.

The leafy greens farming community in California and Arizona has experienced substantial changes to the food-safety requirements they use under the LGMA program over the past four years. Changes impact every area of farming and harvest, including water, risk assessments, soil amendments and equipment sanitation. 

The new requirements for 2022 include conducting risk assessments, root cause analysis and in some instances pre-harvest pathogen testing:

  • If LGMA members encounter any kind of food-safety incident they must conduct a food-safety investigation also called a root cause analysis.
  • When planting leafy greens, LGMA members must conduct an enhanced environmental assessment that is broader in scope with more of a focus on risks of adjacent and nearby lands.
  • LGMA members are required to conduct pre-harvest testing of leafy green products grown in fields with elevated risk factors.

The California LGMA is a food-safety program that brings farmers together to make lettuce and leafy greens safer. LGMA members produce over 70 percent of the Nation’s lettuce and leafy greens — adding up to over 30 billion servings a year. In 2020 lettuce was California’s number six commodity bringing in $2.28 billon. The top four most popular leaf greens California grows are iceberg / head lettuce (32 percent), romaine lettuce, (27 percent), spinach (21 percent) and leaf lettuce (20 percent).

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