U.S – The Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (Arizona LGMA) Food Safety Committee has signed off multiple modifications to the food safety requirements that all members are required to stick to.

In November, when harvest for the 2022–2023 growing season begins, Arizona Department of Food and Agriculture auditors will start confirming compliance with the rules, which took effect on September 16, 2022.

According to the Arizona LGMA, the modifications will have an influence on the more than 9 billion servings of lettuce grown by Arizona farmers in the winter of 2022–2023.

Lettuce/leafy greens may be harvested mechanically or by hand and are almost always consumed uncooked or raw.

Since lettuce/leafy greens may be hand‐harvested and hand‐sorted for quality, there are numerous “touch points” early in the supply chain and a similar number of “touch points” later in the supply chain as the products are used in food service or retail operations. 

Each of these “touch points” represents a potential opportunity for cross‐contamination.

In addition to minor editorial revisions throughout and updated references, the changes include new glossary terms for “risk analysis” and “root cause analysis” and changes to “ Issue 4: Personnel Qualification and Training” that states the training requirements for those who conduct environmental hazard/risk assessments.

The document defines root cause analysis as a process for systematic investigation where incident‐specific information is assembled, and problem‐solving techniques are used to analyze and evaluate why an incident or event happened.

On training, all personnel who handle lettuce/leafy greens or who have contact with food‐contact surfaces, or who are engaged in the supervision thereof, must have a combination of education, training, and experience necessary to perform the person’s assigned duties, in a manner that ensures compliance with these best practices.

Table 0 on Issue 5 on Environmental Assessments has also been updated to align buffer distances to California LGMA and New Pre-Harvest Product Testing SOP requirements. 

The guideline states that prior to the first seasonal planting and within one week prior to harvest, an environmental risk assessment of the production field and surrounding area should be performed and documented.

The assessments should be focused on evaluating the production field for possible animal hazards or other sources of human pathogens of concern, assessing adjacent and nearby land uses for possible sources that might contaminate the production field and evaluating nearby water sources for the potential of past or present flooding.  

Pre‐harvest product testing is one of many tools that can help assess the potential for lot‐specific product contamination and assist in developing a long‐term view of food safety system performance.

Issue 8—Issue 14 has also been reorganized to better align specific, food safety best practices to on-farm production, handling, and harvest practices.

The most recent best practices as well as a copy of the document with tracked revisions are available on the Arizona LGMA website. The Arizona LGMA also offers online access to training materials and event registration.

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