In 2010, members of the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment (CRAE) collaboratively developed Guiding Principles for National Food Safety Programs for Produce. The principles are equally relevant to industry-led, legislative and governmental agency efforts, and are intended to provide guidance both to existing and newly emerging food safety programs and requirements. CRAE submitted the principles to inform several efforts, including a) a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiative to create industry guidelines for tomatoes, leafy greens, and melons, b) the President’s food safety working group efforts to enhance food safety laws, and c) the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service consideration of a National Leafy Greens Food Marketing Agreement.
“In the world of food and farming systems, the problems are always complex and the players and interests are diverse. Making change in such an environment requires patience and skilled facilitation to bring groups together for collaborative action. Ag Innovations has been doing just that for many years and they do it very effectively.”
Shortly after the 2006 E. coli outbreak, which was traced to leafy greens in California’s Central Coast region, CRAE began to provide a forum for a broad range of stakeholders to build mutual understanding and craft widely-supported proposals to enhance food safety while honoring the important conservation role of agricultural producers.
Meanwhile, efforts to develop food safety programs and guidelines were launched at industry, legislative, and government agency levels. CRAE's Guiding Principles for National Food Safety Programs for Produce were developed to inform these efforts, supporting the production of a safe supply of leafy greens based on the best possible science and in a manner that preserves both the economic viability of the farming community and the integrity of the natural environment. The 10 principles include:
- Science-based metrics
- Transparency and participation
- Co-management of food safety and environmental goals
- Risk-based approach
- Accessibility for all producers
- Efficiency and harmonization with existing requirements
- Clarity and specificity
- Technical assistance and programs