Response to “Watchdog” Group’s Twitter Campaign
In November, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) launched a campaign to discourage the Trump Administration from further delaying components of new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for testing of water to ensure it is safe for use in the growing of produce. Although the Produce Safety Rule under FSMA goes into effect in January 2018, the FDA has delayed regulations for water testing until 2020 while it gathers additional science.
The LGMA understands CSPI’s goals in the arena – we were prepared to implement the water rules as written along with the rest of the Produce Safety Rule. However, we are not in agreement with tactics being used by this consumer “watchdog” group to communicate their message. Below is the Tweet CSPI is asking the public to forward to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Tweeting emoji’s that link our product with feces is not just in bad taste, it’s wrong. We’ve reached out to CSPI asking them to remove these offensive images from their social media campaign. And we are hoping to educate them about a few things they may not know about the LGMA.
First, the LGMA has had science-based metrics in place for testing water used in the production of leafy greens since its inception in 2007 – and many leafy greens companies have been testing their water even longer. LGMA-certified handlers are required to continue following these practices for water testing along with updates to LGMA metrics that ensure all our required practices are in full compliance with new federal laws under the Produce Safety Rule. These changes to the metrics were approved by the California and Arizona LGMA Boards in August.
Currently, both state departments of agriculture who perform mandatory government audits for the LGMA in California and Arizona are updating audit checklist so that it will reflect Produce Safety Rule requirements by the start of the next harvest season. This means that all certified LGMA handlers will be in full compliance with FSMA’s requirements under the Produce Safety Rule beginning in 2018. And, as they have for the past ten years, LGMA members in California and Arizona who produce 90 percent of the nation’s leafy greens will continue to be required to verify they are following safety standards for water testing.
This is important information people should know about how their leafy greens are grown. The misinformation distributed by CSPI in its latest campaign does not recognize the commitment to food safety exemplified by the California and Arizona leafy greens community – who produce 94.7% of the U.S. grown lettuce.
The LGMA regularly Tweets about food safety issues important to the leafy greens industry, but today we are asking the industry and our friends to join us in reaching out to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb with accurate information about leafy greens food safety.
The LGMA works closely with the FDA and they are well aware of our efforts. But it never hurts to remind people. Below is a Tweet we have created and are asking you to share. Let’s get the word out.
Dear @SGottliebFDA, people should know that CA & AZ farmers who grow 90% of the nation’s leafy greens have had a mandatory government program with water quality standards for 10 years. We are committed to food safety & are ready to comply with #FSMA today! http://bit.ly/2AgVGGI