Farmers Update Information on Purchasing Romaine Lettuce

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control last week issued an expanded consumer advisory to avoid eating any romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ

According to the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA), the vast majority of romaine lettuce being harvested today is grown in California. California romaine is not associated with this outbreak.

The California leafy greens community is working quickly to label product as “California Grown” whenever possible and they are communicating with retail and restaurant customers to verify the romaine they are purchasing is from California.

“The leafy greens community takes the responsibility of producing safe leafy greens very seriously. Not only are the foods we grow eaten by our own families, but they are consumed around the world,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to those people whose lives have been impacted by this outbreak.”

To assist consumers, retailers and restaurants, the LGMA offers the following information:

  • Public health advisories are only for romaine lettuce from Yuma, AZ. No romaine grown in California is involved.
  • Consumers should verify that romaine purchased in stores or restaurants is not from Arizona before consuming.
  • Restaurants and grocery stores should not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region.

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement represent the U.S. produce industry’s most rigorous food safety program. The program includes mandatory food safety practices and frequent government audits are required to ensure practices are being followed.

“Our members are required to be in 100 percent compliance with required LGMA food safety practice. Every LGMA member and their operations are inspected by government auditors, who verify more than 150 food safety checkpoints. These audits take place about 5 times per year for every LGMA member company,” said Horsfall.

Horsfall also noted the LGMA system was designed so that it can be changed and updated as necessary. The industry is now working with government regulators, scientists and food safety experts to determine what more might be done to further strengthen the program to prevent future outbreaks involving leafy greens.