The California LGMA (Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement) has announced the initiation of a 2-year food safety study called “Romaine Test & Learn.”
Approved unanimously by the LGMA Advisory Board, the study aims to collect and analyze pathogen test data for romaine lettuce from LGMA members, encompassing both pre-harvest and post-harvest testing.
Jan Berk, LGMA Chair, expressed the significance of “Romaine Test & Learn,” stating, “This program will allow our members’ individual testing data to collectively provide meaningful, aggregated data to better understand potential risks.” According to LGMA, the study was Inspired by the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing program that revolutionized commercial aviation through data aggregation and sharing.
Tim York, LGMA CEO, emphasized the importance of data sharing in improving safety, citing the airline safety model. He stated, “That is why we are embarking on this project – to make lettuce even safer for consumers to enjoy.”
While testing is not mandatory for LGMA members, those who conduct tests will need to adhere to minimum protocols for sample collection and testing. It is estimated that over 90 percent of LGMA members already perform romaine lettuce pathogen testing.
To ensure comprehensive data collection, LGMA members will anonymously input their testing data into GreenLinkTM data sharing and data analytics platform managed by Western Growers. The collected data will include sample size, sample date, sample stage, sampling region, commodity description, organisms tested, test result, and organism type if applicable.
Industry experts and third-party scientists will conduct a scientific analysis of the data to identify key learnings. The analysis will focus on the frequency of pathogen detection per region, differences in pathogen positivity rates based on the location and timing of sample collection, alignment of test results with the risk profile associated with leafy greens, and indications for potential changes to the current LGMA food safety standards.
The California LGMA is a food safety program that brings farmers together to enhance the safety of lettuce and leafy greens. LGMA members responsible for producing more than 70 percent of the nation’s lettuce and leafy greens, totaling more than 30 billion servings annually. The California LGMA verifies food safety practices, enforces through government audits, and promotes continuous improvement.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)