To be eligible to sign up for the LGMA you must be a handler/shipper of California leafy green products, definition below:
Handler means any person who handles, processes, ships or distributes leafy green products [iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (i.e. immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula or chard] for market whether as owner, agent, employee, broker or otherwise.
Note: Distributors of leafy greens who are not the “first handler” of product (see below under assessments) should not sign up as LGMA members; they can participate in the program by only purchasing leafy green products from Certified LGMA members who use the LGMA Service Mark.
Joining the LGMA is voluntary; however once you are a LGMA member all program requirements are mandatory.
1. Food Safety Practices
At the heart of the LGMA program are the Food Safety Practices (GAPs or metrics) accepted by the LGMA board of directors. All LGMA members are required to ensure that these practices have been in place for all California leafy green products grown and handled by the company. The current LGMA Food Safety Practices are always available for review via our website:
2. Annual Scheduled and Unannounced Audits
All LGMA members are subject to mandatory audits by government inspectors. The LGMA operates its audit program under the auspices of USDA’s GAP/GHP program, and the auditors utilized for the program are employees of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). All auditors are trained and certifi¬ed by USDA.
Each year it is the LGMA’s goal to audit all handlers every 6 – 8 weeks when active in the market, and to audit all growers selling product to handlers at least once. LGMA members who handle product provided by a larger number of growers can expect to be audited more often.
LGMA members are also subject to one unannounced audit annually.
The audit checklists are designed to verify that the food safety practices are being implemented, they are available for review on our website: www.lgma.ca.gov/food-safety-practices
The LGMA is funded through mandatory assessments on its members. All LGMA members are assessed monthly according to the volume of received product that they handle. It is thefirst handler of product who is responsible for paying the assessment. The definition of first handler is:
The party responsible for assessments is the signatory handler whose name appears on the legal panel on packs as they move into commerce, or if the product is not packed under a signatory trade name, the signatory with the legal responsibility for the product as it moves into commerce is responsible for the assessment.
The LGMA’s fiscal year runs from April 1 through March 31. Joining the Marketing Agreement is a two-step process. Companies wishing to become signatories must submit a sign-up form and a signed Statement of Understanding.
· Sign-ups, received prior to April 1, are good for the entire fiscal year.
· Sign-ups received between April 1 and October 1 are effective from October 1 – March 31.
· Companies new to handling leafy greens can sign up at any time during the year.
Statement of Understanding
Once a signup form is received, LGMA staff will provide a resources document and statement of understanding to the prospective member. Membership becomes effective once the company signs and returns the statement of understanding.
The next step is to review the company’s food safety plan for LGMA audit preparedness. The LGMA Technical Director will work with individual companies to verify that they have a food safety plan and standard operating procedures in place that will meet the audit criteria. When he is confident the company is ready for the audit he will contact the auditors to schedule.
Each new LGMA member will be subject to a mandatory informational audit. This audit will encompass everything the normal official audit would, and will not count towards certification, unless as noted below. If necessary, a corrective action plan will be required from an informational audit so that we so that LGMA staff can review the handler’s response program and know that they are prepared to operate under the LGMA system.
The informational audit can be made official at the discretion of the LGMA compliance staff. An informational audit would be considered official if the compliance staff and audit team were satisfied that the handler was implementing food safety practices required by the program and overseeing corrective actions etc.
Certification of New Members
Companies will be certified as members in good standing once they have:
1. Completed an informational audit
2. Completed an official audit
3. Submitted an appropriate corrective action plan (CAP), if required, which has been accepted as sufficient by the LGMA compliance officer.
If the official audit resulted in findings that were no more severe than a minor deviation, the company will be certified upon completion of acceptable corrective action plan. If there were major deviations or greater, a satisfactory re-audit to verify corrective actions taken will be necessary before the company will be certified.
Certification Listing and The Service Mark
Once all these steps are taken, the LGMA Compliance officer will declare the LGMA member company certified. At that point they will be listed on the LGMA website as a certified member and required to use the LGMA Service Mark on Bills of Lading. A certificate of compliance will be issued electronically and sent by mail.