The US California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) board has adopted new stringent requirements to further strengthen the mandatory food safety practices required on leafy greens producers’ farms.

The requirements are aimed at protecting consumers, as well as preventing future foodborne illness outbreaks.

California LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall said: “During its 19 April Board meeting, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement adopted new, more stringent requirements to reduce risk when it comes to water used in growing lettuce and leafy greens.

”The standards set by the LGMA board come in response to investigations conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration into last year’s E coli outbreak.“

“This means that every box of leafy greens placed into commerce by a certified LGMA member will now be produced under these new requirements. We have effectively changed the way leafy greens are farmed.”

LGMA is a food safety programme that represents 99% of the leafy greens grown in California.

Members associated with the LGMA programme are required to follow a set of science-based food safety practices and should obtain certification that has been audited by government officials approximately five times per year.

The standards set by the LGMA board come in response to investigations conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration into last year’s E coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce.

Under the new requirements that include additional safeguards, farmers should categorise the source of water and consider how and when water is applied to the crop.

Additionally, testing needs to be carried out to ensure that the water is safe for the intended use and be sanitised if necessary.

They also include specific directives that no longer allow the use of untreated surface water for overhead irrigation of leafy greens prior to harvest.