The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has terminated proceedings on a proposed marketing agreement that sought to regulate the handling of fresh leafy green vegetables in the United States. Modeled after a 2006 initiative pioneered by California growers in the wake of an E. coli outbreak linked to fresh spinach, the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) would have authorized “the development and implementation of handling regulations (audit metrics) to reflect the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Good Agricultural Practices, Good Handling Practices, and Good Manufacturing Practices .”
According to the California LGMA, which participated in the NLGMA effort, the proposed program became redundant under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which requires FDA to regulate produce farmers “to ensure their products are safe.” To this end, the California LGMA recently submitted comments on FSMA’s proposed Produce Safety Rule, asking the FDA to considercertified LGMA members as compliant with new food safety laws.
“Through the LGMA programs in California and Arizona, 90 percent of the leafy greens grown in the U.S. are already being produced in [a] manner that meets or exceeds proposed new food safety regulations,” states the California LGMA blog. “The LGMA programs utilize mandatory government auditors, funding is provided by industry and doesn’t require additional tax dollars and these programs have been in place for over six years.” Additional details about the NLGMA appear in Issue 393 of this Update. See California LGMA Blog, December 4, 2013; Federal Register, December 5, 2013.