Two leaders from the retail and foodservice buying community were honored by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Atlanta, Ga. 

Bill Pool of Wegmans and Mike Spinazzola of Diversified Restaurant Systems, the produce buying arm for IPC and SUBWAY restaurants, were announced as recipients of the LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award. 

The Golden Checkmark is given to recognize individuals and organizations that support mandatory government inspection of food safety practices in the produce industry.

“These two recipients are industry leaders in the field of food safety, each working to protect public health by maintaining the highest food safety standards for their companies,” said Scott Horsfall, LGMA chief executive officer. “They are exceptional examples of representatives from firms who have committed to accept the LGMA’s mandatory government audits as the only third-party inspection required of their leafy greens suppliers.”

Bill Pool is the manager of ag production and research for the Rochester, NY-based grocery store Wegmans. Wegmans has built a reputation as one of the most successful regional grocery chains in the country with a strong commitment to food safety, sustainability and buying locally.

Wegmans is a long-time supporter of the LGMA and does not require any other food safety audit beyond the rigorous system of government inspections available through the LGMA. 

Meanwhile, as President and COO of Diversified Restaurant Systems, Mike Spinazzola has been instrumental in steering Subway, one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, to a policy which favors USDA government audits as its preferred means for inspecting produce farming operations and accepts the LGMA’s mandatory government audit as the only one required of its leafy green suppliers.

“Farmers of leafy greens are committed to protecting public health and we are very pleased that these two individuals and their companies have recognized the culture of food safety which has been established on leafy greens farms through the LGMA,” said Jamie Strachan, chairman of the LGMA and CEO of Salinas-based Growers Express, LLC, which produces iceberg and leaf lettuces, in addition to other vegetable crops.

“Accepting the LGMA audit is an essential step in eliminating costly duplicative inspections often required of produce farmers.” 

Past recipients of the LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura for their roles in establishing this first-of-its kind food safety program in 2007.