FMI - The Food Industry Association and the the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements (LGMA) have thrown their support behind the Food and Drug Drug Administration’s (FDA) recently released Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan.
The FDA’s plan lays out the actions it intends to take this year in the areas of prevention, response and addressing knowledge gaps, based on stronger collaboration and cooperation among the grower community, researchers, and various state and national government agencies. “STEC” stands for Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, the cause of potentially life-threatening foodborne illnesses.
“FMI will champion industry efforts to influence supplier and grower food safety practices and enhance regulatory engagement throughout the supply chain,” noted Hilary Thesmar, the trade organization’s chief food and product safety officer and senior vice president, food safety. “We support the agency’s action plan as a tool that will further the food industry’s focus on foodborne illness prevention efforts and strengthen food safety around leafy greens.
Added Thesmar: “The primary goal of all retailers and wholesalers is to maintain the health and safety of its customers. The romaine lettuce outbreaks and consumer advisories that led to complete product withdrawals from the market in 2018 and 2019 were devastating to retailers and wholesalers, the produce industry and consumers.”
These events spurred the association to create the FMI Recommended Food Safety Practices for Leafy Greens guide to help prevent contamination of leafy greens, enhance communication across the entire supply chain, protect consumers and the safety of products they eat, and facilitate effective responses to any future food safety incidents.
Thesmar noted that FMI would continue its work with the FDA on the agency’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative and blueprint.
Meanwhile, LGMA, food safety programs formed by California and Arizona companies that ship and sell lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens products, said that it welcomed “any action that helps prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks associated with our products.” LGMA went on to “applaud the efforts of Assistant Commissioner Frank Yiannas and his colleagues to make the process inclusive and in partnership with all stakeholders in the supply chain, from field to store, restaurant and consumers.”
According the programs, “LGMA-required food safety practices are already the most stringent for any produce item in the world. Specifically, the LGMA program recently strengthened water quality standards well beyond what is contained in current federal regulations under the Produce Safety Rule.”
LGMA also issued a list of ongoing actions being taken by the leafy greens industry.