(Scott Horsfall, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement)
Many agencies of the U.S. government are shut down due to fiscal constraints yet government food safety audits on leafy greens farms through the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) continue uninterrupted.
LGMA auditors are not direct employees of the federal government. The certification and licensing of auditors is provided by the USDA while they operate with oversight from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The audit program is fully funded by the leafy greens community through mandatory government assessments and is not reliant on tax dollars.
The LGMA believes this public-private partnership is the best model for food safety since it is a system in which industry and government work together to ensure safe food.
The leafy greens industry, for its part, works with scientists and food safety experts in a transparent process to develop science-based food safety standards, or metrics. The government then works independently to ensure these practices are followed on farms.
The program requires handlers to be in compliance with 100 percent of the required standards. The handlers must correct any citations issued or face decertification from the program which translates into loss of business.
The end result is a system that drives continuous improvement with real penalties for non-compliance.
All of this is provided at a cost of about one cent per box for leafy greens handlers.
The LGMA will continue to operate throughout the shut down.
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