The Important Role of the Farmworker in Food Safety
There seems to a lot of talk lately about the role of farmworkers in protecting public health. Worker training is a key component of FDA’s proposed Produce Rule. Some retail and foodservice operations are dictating new worker training requirements for their suppliers, and this week attorney Bill Marler in an NBC News report called a new program being piloted by Costco “spectacular” because the initiative ‘provides special training to farm workers on hygiene, clean water and more.’ “Working with the people who are producing our food is one piece of the puzzle that not many businesses do,” was Marler’s quote. “And that’s the great thing about this.”
We couldn’t agree more with Marler’s point; but when it comes to the notion that ‘not many people who are producing our food’ consider the role of farmworkers in food safety, we need to point out that this is how every member of the LGMA does business. In fact, LGMA members are required to regularly train harvesters and other on-farm workers to watch for and understand how to mitigate a host of potential food safety risks. In fact, government auditors visit LGMA-member farms regularly to make sure that workers know these practices and can explain their importance. For over seven years worker training has been a requirement of the LGMA and it’s key to creating the culture of food safety we often talk about.
The LGMA believes the role of farmworkers is so important to the safety of our product that we provide ongoing and regular workshops to train harvest crews and supervisors in proper food safety practices. These workshops are offered in English and Spanish in locations throughout the state’s growing regions, and we cross-train with our sister program, the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. You can find more information in the LGMA Tech section of our website which is devoted to this kind of training.
The proper training of farmworkers is a critical component of farming that has and will continue to save lives. We are very pleased that Bill Marler and retailers such as Costco join programs like the LGMA in emphasizing the importance of farmworker practices and training.