LGMA Partners with Western Growers to Offer Remote Food Safety Audits During Pandemic
Mandatory government food safety audits of leafy greens farms under the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement are continuing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Announced today by Western Growers (WG) and the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (CA LGMA), is the availability of a new process developed through a collaboration with iFoodDecisionSciences (iFoodDS), that streamlines all verification documents and data for online review by government auditors.
This process will allow the execution of remote audits and has been reviewed and accepted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which has oversight of the LGMA programs and auditors. While in-person inspections may be temporarily limited to protect farm workers, farm office employees and government auditors, much of the LGMA audits are focused on reviewing verification documentation which can be presented in various forms, including large amounts of paperwork.
“As an industry leader in produce safety, Western Growers remains committed to leading produce safety initiatives and solutions,” said Sonia Salas, WG assistant vice president of food safety, science & technology. “In a time where COVID-19 is testing all industries, this new auditing process will support food safety oversight during this pandemic.”
The system was developed over the past few weeks, has been tested and is now available to certified members of the LGMA who are audited an average of five times over the year.
“We were able to use this new process in a real audit situation and it worked extremely well from start to finish,” said Sharan Lanini, Director of Food Safety for Pacific International Marketing and chair of the LGMA’s Technical Committee. “This is a great development in the government audit process.”
“The streamlining of data and verification documents online is a really positive outcome of our ‘new normal,’” said Diane Wetherington, Executive Chair of the iFoodDS board. “The use of iFoodDS software will not only save the auditors time, but it will allow them to more efficiently assess compliance with LGMA food safety metrics through the use of a consistent online verification system.”
“When the LGMA began in 2007, it was the first program of its kind in the nation. As we navigate through these unprecedented circumstances, the LGMA program continues to find innovative ways to move forward and achieve its objective of advancing food safety for leafy greens products,” said Scott Horsfall, Chief Executive Officer of the California LGMA. “This new auditing system is another example of the pioneering spirit of the LGMA and its commitment to find new and better ways to enhance the safety of leafy greens.”
WG has worked with the AZ and CA LGMAs since their inception in 2007 and is currently the facilitator of proposed changes to the LGMA food safety guidelines. WG continues to explore and support new ways to enhance food safety efforts, particularly in these challenging times.