The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is taking a crack at answering an elusive produce food safety question: What exactly is a culture of food safety?
“We talk about it a lot in produce food safety circles and there is great focus on instilling a culture of food safety throughout a company or organization. But explaining what the concept really means can be difficult,” says April Ward, communications director with the LGMA.
The LGMA is a comprehensive food safety program created in 2007 which represents more than 99% of the leafy greens produced in the state. It utilizes mandatory government audits to verify a set of food safety practices are being followed in California leafy greens farms.
“We believe the greatest success of the LGMA to date is that it’s helped establish this culture where everyone is doing the right thing on leafy greens farms to make sure food is safe,” Ward says. “Explaining this concept to people is really important because it fosters greater focus on achieving this culture throughout the leafy greens community. And that is a very good thing.”
Ward explains that the LGMA is launching a series of six in-depth blog posts that will be issued throughout 2015. The first installment focuses on the culture of food safety describing it from three different vantage points. One is a written recap of a story told by Drew McDonald, who is the vice president of Quality, Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, for LGMA certified handler-member Church Brothers Produce. The story involves Drew, a hill top, a retail customer, and a pair of high-powered binoculars.
“I don’t want to ruin the ending, so you’ll have to read our blog post to learn what Drew was doing up there,” Ward reports. “But I can tell you it’s an excellent real-life example of how things operate in today’s leafy greens community.”
Ward adds the LGMA has also posted a video interview with Drew, who has spent 21 years in the leafy greens industry working on both the supply and buying sides at different points in his career. In the brief video, Drew shares his take on how things have changed in the leafy greens industry since 2006 and the role of the LGMA in the growing culture.
To further promote online sharing of information, the LGMA has also created an “infographic” that illustrates the concept of a culture of food safety. The infographic is meant to show in a quick, easy-to-understand format what the concept of this food safety culture is. The graphic shows how the success of a leafy greens company is tied to food safety. This fact can drive all employees to embrace the culture because they know putting food safety first is a must and it’s the right thing to do.
Ward explains that the LGMA is launching this series of in-depth blogs with visual support so ideas can be easily shared through social media.
“We really hope that people interested in safe food will read our blog, watch the video and see the infographic,” urges Ward. “Then we want them to share these pieces throughout the produce industry and beyond to help us get the word out about the level of commitment to protecting public health that exists among leafy greens farmers and handers.”
Source: LGMA news release