After 2018’s losses from E.coli-contaminated romaine lettuce, growers of Arizona leafy greens are adopting stricter water quality metrics for the upcoming growing season. These parameters are similar to those approved by California growers to better address the practicality of using surface water.
“These new water metrics are expected to be particularly helpful in facilitating data collection for growers to better identify potential risks,” according to a September 4, 2019 news release. “Having these answers will allow for faster response and execution of mitigation efforts.”
The water metrics add to new standards adopted during the previous season, including rigorous environmental assessments, more prescriptive harvesting practices, expanded buffer zones between agriculture and potential sources of contamination, and improved trace-backs through labeling requirements.
These rules are similar to California’s water quality testing changes which require growers to:
- - Review water system, sources, storage and irrigation methods
- - Conduct water testing and routinely monitor sources and systems
- - Treat water if necessary (surface water for overhead irrigation 21 days before harvest must be sanitized)
“We have spent countless hours going over and reviewing every aspect of our industry,” Vicki-Lynne Scott, technical assistant, a member of the food safety subcommittee of the Arizona Leafy Greens Agreement. “It’s an ongoing effort, but we are continuing a proud heritage of growing and distributing quality leafy greens to customers throughout the U.S.”
Source: Arizona Leafy Greens Agreement September 4, 2019 news release