This month the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement begins its fifth year of operation. It's hard to believe so much time has passed since this first-of-its-kind program began. It hasn't been easy, but the very fact that the LGMA exists today is proof that the challenges of implementing a comprehensive food safety system for an entire commodity can be overcome.
Since its inception in 2007, over 2,000 inspections of leafy greens farms by government inspectors have been conducted and the LGMA has become a model for food safety programs in other states and for other commodities. Most importantly, in the course of the last four years, consumers have enjoyed more than 175 billion servings of leafy greens grown under the mandatory government inspection program that exists in California and Arizona. These are not just statistics — they are real numbers about real people and real product.
As the current chairman of the LGMA Board, I'm often asked, "How do you know the LGMA is working?"
The answer to that question is simple — the LGMA is working to establish a culture of food safety on leafy greens farms. Most farmers will tell you that leafy greens were safe before the LGMA came along, but what is changed today is the high level of attention food safety on the farm now receives. Everyone involved in operations, from the farmer to the harvesters, know and understand that food safety considerations are ALWAYS top of mind.
As the LGMA begins its fifth year, we are also embarking on a new effort to better inform the public about the LGMA and our commitment to public health. I am proud to be the first to "post" on the LGMA's new blog. Our hope is that through this blog the LGMA becomes a valued source of information for farmers, industry members, buyers, government regulators and consumers of leafy greens. Over the course of the coming months, the LGMA blog will feature a range of topics concerning leafy greens safety from members, experts and friends. I hope you will join us in this new dialog and stay tuned for more.