For months romaine growers, consumer advocates, researchers and government agencies have been scrutinizing factors that contributed to this year’s deadly E. coli outbreak. As of this week — about 10 days into planting for their next harvest — most growers in the implicated region are operating under new food safety requirements.
The new “metrics” for members of the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement are effective immediately. Officials with the grower consortium said inspections are set to begin in November. Arizona growers plant romaine at this time of year, with their harvest season usually running from November through mid-March.
The revised requirements in Arizona involve:
- Daily cleaning of equipment;
- More extensive review of crop impact after weather events such as flooding or high winds;
- Mandatory traceability measures; and
- A 1,200-foot minimum buffer zone between growing fields and feed lots with 1,000 or more animals. Previously the buffer requirement was 400 feet.
“Arizona farms take these food safety practices very seriously and are committed to doing everything possible to prevent future outbreaks,” said Arizona LGMA Food Safety Committee Administrator Teressa Lopez.