The Board of Directors for Western Growers, a produce growers' trade association, announced Tuesday that it would initiate a California Marketing Agreement and a Marketing Order in order to bring about better safety procedures for spinach and leafy green products. The board will also move to initiate a federal marketing order aimed at developing comprehensive and mandatory national spinach and leafy green food safety standards.
Western Growers hopes to enhance the safety of all parts of the food supply chain for leafy greens and spinach through mandatory measures. State and federal regulatory agencies would oversee the enforcement of the rules.
"Our industry is at a crossroads," said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. "The consuming public, lawmakers, state and federal government agencies as well as our members want greater assurances that the healthy, fresh produce we provide is safe. The actions approved by our board of directors will help ensure that improved food safety standards are universally understood and adhered to."
Western Growers' actions figure to make a significant impact on safety in the produce industry, as 90% of those involved in growing, packing and shipping produce in California are members, along with 75% in Arizona.
Additionally, Western Growers is encouraging partner associations to support the actions. These groups include the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Grower Shipper Association of Central California and the California Farm Bureau Federation.
"We were very pleased by the reactions of our association partners to our proposed plan to develop mandatory good agricultural practices and to initiate mandatory marketing orders at the state and federal levels," says Nassif.