California Aims to Regulate Leafy Greens

January 25, 2007

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has taken steps to regulate leafy greens by initiating a plan that asks companies in the leafy greens industry to sign a Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. The agreement would establish an inspection program for handlers of the products, has been released for sign-ups.

The proposed agreement, which was created by the leafy greens industry and is being facilitated by CDFA, would use the inspection program to verify that leafy greens handlers are complying with their own standards. Handlers are middlemen through whom product moves from field to retail. The industry was criticized in 2006 following an e. colio outbreak that was traced to spinach that originated from the state.

If sign-ups indicate that there is enough participation for the agreement to serve its purpose, CDFA said would then certify the agreement. Handlers are being encouraged to sign the agreement by February 5.

The marketing agreement would be the first step in an overall plan that would then move to a marketing order, which would verify and enforce standards among all leafy greens growers, CDFA said. The primary distinction between a marketing order and a marketing agreement is that participation in the order is mandatory and participation in the agreement is voluntary. However, once handlers commit to the agreement, compliance is mandatory.

The proposed marketing agreement can be viewed at: www.cdfa.ca.gov.

Source: CDFA

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