Romaine Farmers Take Action to Prevent Future Outbreaks

Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements announce Food Safety Task Force

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated information today concerning the multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with romaine lettuce from the Yuma region. Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration released additional information about their investigation saying, “Any contaminated product from the Yuma growing region has already worked its way through the food supply and is no longer available for consumption.”

As this tragic outbreak continues to be investigated, farmers, food safety experts and government are coming together to prevent future outbreaks associated with leafy greens.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those impacted by this tragedy,” said Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee Administrator Teressa Lopez. “This incident is a stark reminder of the size and scope of our reach, and we, more than anyone want to understand how it happened. Our primary intent is to minimize risk and protect consumers. We remain absolutely committed to that.”

In response to this outbreak, the Arizona and California leafy greens industries, along with PMA, Western Growers, United Fresh, and other stakeholders are convening a task force to sharpen food safety systems through the entire supply chain from production, to packaging, processing and distribution. The Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force will include industry members as well as food safety experts, researchers and government representatives.

“It is very difficult to identify an issue weeks or months after the fact, primarily because of the expediency with which our product is harvested and in the marketplace,” said Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Chair Jerry Muldoon. “With our industry knowledge, scientific experts and the collaboration of state and federal agencies, we believe we can help get to the bottom of this and make changes to processes after our product leaves the farm, as well as closely examine other factors at play.”

“The strength of the LGMA is that if we learn how and where problems may be occurring, we can quickly change our program,” said California LGMA Chairman Steve Church of Church Brothers Farms. “With the right people at the table, we are confident that we can address the issue.”

“The California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements are taking the lead in creating this Task Force, and we want to ensure comprehensive representation from the entire supply chain,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California LGMA.