October 9, 2013

LGMA Audits Continue During Shutdown

Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA), blogged that in light of the current federal government shut-down, “We want to ensure our customers and consumers that government food safety audits on leafy greens farms continue uninterrupted.”

LGMA auditors are not direct employees of the federal government; rather they are certified and licensed by the United States Department of Food and Agriculture, and they operate with oversight from the state department of agriculture in California. The audit program is fully funded by the leafy greens community through mandatory government assessments and is not reliant on tax dollars.  

This public-private partnership is, according to LGMA, the best model for food safety because it is a system in which industry and government work together to ensure safe food. The leafy greens industry works with scientists and food safety experts in a transparent process to develop science-based food safety standards, or metrics. The government then works independently to ensure these practices are followed on farms.

The program requires handlers to be 100 percent in compliance with required standards.  The handlers must correct any issued citations or face decertification from the program, resulting in loss of business. The end result is a system that drives continuous improvement with real penalties for non-compliance, provided at approximately 1 cent per box for leafy greens handlers.

As federal government agencies continue to struggle with funding the Food Safety Modernization Act, consumers continue to enjoy leafy greens grown under a system of mandatory government inspection. And the LGMA will continue to operate through the shutdown as it has since 2007.      

Source: Scott Horsfall, CEO, LGMA