Import requirements for leafy green vegetables from California and Arizona
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Leafy greens imported from California and Arizona in the United States have been associated with several outbreaks of foodborne E. coli 0157:H7 illnesses in 2006, 2018 and 2019. In order to promote and continuously improve the use of food safety practices in the production industry, both California and Arizona have developed and implemented leafy greens marketing agreements.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), in consultation with the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, other California officials and the Western Growers Association, developed the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (California LGMA) which requires signatory handlers of leafy greens grown in California to get their supply from growers that apply the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens (Leafy Green GAPs).
The Leafy Green GAPs were developed by the Western Growers Association, in collaboration with the US Food and Drug Administration and the California Department of Health Services, and have been peer reviewed by academia. It incorporates best practices to address the risk factors associated with leafy greens.
In Arizona, the leafy greens industry established the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee in 2007 in an effort to better organize and protect the integrity of leafy green vegetables grown, harvested and shipped from the state. This group oversees the Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA).
Members of Arizona LGMA must comply with the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Production and Harvest of Lettuce and Leafy Greens (Metrics) and are audited regularly by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) licensed auditors.
The importation of leafy greens from California is limited to those handled by a signatory handler of the California LGMA.
The importation of leafy greens from Arizona is limited to those handled by shippers that are certified members of the Arizona LGMA.
- Leafy green products or vegetables
- Under the California and Arizona LGMAs, this means iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (for example, immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, arugula and chard. Radicchio is also included under the Arizona LGMA only. Products not identified above are excluded from these new import requirements (for example, Bok Choy and other Asian greens).
The CFIA will allow the importation of leafy green vegetables from the USA if:
- The importer indicates the state of origin of the produce.
- Produce grown in California has been handled by a certified member of the California LGMA.
- Produce grown in Arizona has been handled by a shipper that is a certified member of the Arizona LGMA.
Scope of the import requirements
The requirements apply to all US shipments of leafy green vegetables either sold in bags, in bulk, or combined with other food items, in a fresh state.
The import requirements are based on the following legislative authority. Failure to comply with the requirements will result in product being refused entry into Canada, destroyed or re-exported to USA.
Section 8 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act.
Section 8(1) of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations states:
Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported
- (a) must not be contaminated
- (b) must be edible
- (c) must not consist in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance; and
- (d) must have been manufactured, prepared, stored, packaged and labelled under sanitary conditions
Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act states: "No person shall sell an article of food that:
- has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance
- is unfit for human consumption;
- consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
- is adulterated; or
- was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions."
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