The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has initiated a new training program designed to help members reduce citations found through the program’s rigorous food safety inspections.

A series of food safety workshops was conducted recently for harvest foreman and food safety supervisors of LGMA handler-members. The seminars provided assistance for LGMA members so that they can more easily achieve compliance with LGMA food safety practices.

“LGMA members must achieve 100 percent compliance with the accepted food safety practices,” said LGMA Chief Executive Officer Scott Horsfall. “Any member issued a citation is required to correct the problem and to submit to re-inspection to prove compliance has been achieved.”

Horsfall says the workshops were designed to make members better able to achieve compliance and to reduce the number of citations from audits conducted by government inspectors.

“The LGMA has conducted nearly 2,000 audits to date and we now have a tremendous amount of experience in what it takes to achieve compliance,” Horsfall said.

“In addition, we have added personnel with technical expertise to provide the kind of assistance our members need to reduce citations; which is the goal of the workshop series and of our new technical assistance program.”

The LGMA technical assistance program is overseen by Mike Villaneva, LGMA’s technical director, who has 26 years experience in the public and private agriculture sectors.

According to Villaneva, the LGMA food safety workshops were designed as a way for members and auditors to share information about what works and what does not work when it comes to ensuring compliance with food safety practices.

“One of the main areas where we see problems is in training harvest personnel,” Villaneva said. “This is why we targeted harvest supervisors to attend the workshop and it is also why the information from these workshops is available in both English and Spanish.”

“We are very focused in helping our members better train their workers to follow food safety practices and standard operating procedures the companies have in place and which must be enforced,” Villaneva said.

Over 160 attendees participated in the seven workshops. Three sessions were held in Salinas, two in Santa Maria, and one in Oxnard.

California Department of Agriculture’s USDA-certified inspectors who perform the LGMA audits attended the sessions.

For more information, visit the LGMA Web site at www.lgma.ca.gov or contact Villaneva at (916) 441-1240.