The LGMA programs in California and Arizona have updated their required food safety practices so they are in alignment with new federal food safety laws. This means that 90 percent of the leafy greens produced in the U.S. and certified through the LGMA’s system of mandatory government audits will be in full compliance with the Produce Safety Rule under FSMA.
We can now say with confidence that LGMA certification is equal to FSMA compliance. This is an important distinction LGMA members can make – not just because it will soon be the law of the land, but also because retail and foodservice buyers have made it clear they will be asking all suppliers to verify their compliance with new food safety laws under FSMA.
As an example, Tim York President of Markon and a long-time supporter of the LGMA program had this to say:
“When the LGMA was launched in 2007, we were vocal and early supporters of the program because the LGMA metrics had the specificity and accountability needed for a robust food safety program. Knowing that LGMA certification also means our leafy green suppliers are in full compliance with FSMA makes the LGMA certification status even more valuable. We applaud the LGMA for taking this action.”
The process to update the metrics involved a comprehensive review of the food safety practices required of produce farms under FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule. Where necessary, LGMA’s required practices were changed to make sure they comply with FSMA laws. The effort – which took several months to complete — was facilitated by Western Growers and vetted through an open and transparent process before being presented to the LGMA Technical Committees in Arizona and California and ultimately to the full LGMA Board in both states.
The LGMA programs will now work with the USDA and the Departments of Agriculture in both California and Arizona so the changes can be incorporated into audit checklists. It is expected that LGMA members will begin being inspected to these new standards in early 2018 when compliance with new laws under FSMA becomes mandatory.
Our plan for the very near future is to begin educating the leafy greens community about the changes. Updated metrics will be posted on the LGMA websites as soon as possible. Stay tuned.
What the Specific Changes Entail
The LGMA metrics were already closely aligned with the Produce Safety Rule and, in many cases, exceeded requirements that are now part of FSMA.
According to Western Growers Hank Giclas, no changes were needed in many sections of the LGMAs’ existing required food safety practices. LGMA metrics already meet or exceed the new federal laws with respect to requirements concerning: environmental assessments; climatic conditions; animal encroachment and soil fertility. In addition, no changes were made to practices concerning water use since the FDA is still considering what will be required under FSMA in this area. Giclas emphasized the LGMA metrics have always included science-based practices to ensure water used in the farming of leafy greens is safe and adequately tested.
Some of the key changes to the LGMA metrics include:
- New sections were added to cover additional training and documentation requirements. The updates are more prescriptive than what was previously required by the LGMA programs. In each case, the LGMAs have adopted language that closely mirrors what is in the Produce Safety Rule.
- New requirements were added to the section on soil amendments to make sure that certain products are shown to be treated in a way that kills listeria monocytogenes.
- Requirements were added for on-farm storage buildings and transporting leafy greens from the field to coolers.