July 23, 2024

LGMA Launches Romaine Test & Learn Project

With a long history of E. coli outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in mind, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) is starting a food safety study named “Romaine Test & Learn.” The Packer sites that the study was unanimously approved by the LGMA Advisory Board. Researchers will collect and analyze members’ pathogen test data for romaine lettuce.

LGMA Launches Romaine Test & Learn Project

Jan Berk, LGMA Chair told The Packer, “Romaine Test & Learn represents the most significant change the LGMA has made to benefit food safety since its inception. This program will allow our members’ individual testing data to collectively provide meaningful, aggregated data to better understand potential risks.”

The program was inspired by aviation studies. Those studies shared and aggregated safety data to make commercial aviation safer. LGMA believes that sharing data can improve safety.

Tim York, LGMA CEO added, “The airline safety model shows us that sharing data can improve safety. That is why we are embarking on this project – to make lettuce even safer for consumers to enjoy.”

Testing isn’t required for LGMA members, but any farm that does test will need to meet minimum protocols for collecting and testing samples. The organization thinks that more than 90% of LGMA members do test their romaine lettuce for pathogens.

Last year an E. coli outbreak associated with Wendy’s sandwiches was tentatively associated with romaine lettuce, but the FDA could not conclusively establish that the leafy greens caused those illnesses. At least 109 people were sickened in that outbreak.

Before that, in 2021 there was a secret E. coli O157:H7 outbreak likely associated with romaine lettuce that the FDA did not tell the public about because it was not solved until all of the product was no longer available for purchase.

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