The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced it will accept either pre-harvest or finished product testing as part of its requirements for importing romaine lettuce into Canada between September 30 and December 31, 2021. The requirements apply to romaine lettuce grown in four California counties: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey.
Growers in those four counties must provide an attestation form and certificate of analysis for each shipment to demonstrate that the romaine lettuce does not contain detectable levels of E. coli O157:H7.
The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) has recently developed and approved specific protocols for preharvest testing of leafy greens that its members are required to follow. The protocols have been reviewed by CFIA and were a factor in its decision to allow the preharvest testing option. Last year CFIA accepted only romaine that had undergone finished product testing, which occurs after the lettuce has been harvested and packaged for sale.
"We are pleased with CFIA's announcement because we strongly believe the preharvest testing option provides several benefits over finished product testing," said Tim York, CEO of the LGMA. "Although any kind of testing comes at a cost for lettuce farmers, preharvest testing is more efficient and less costly than finished product testing. It saves harvest, packaging and storage costs in the event the product tests positive for a pathogen. Importantly, testing lettuce prior to harvest before it's packaged for sale to consumers also provides further assurances that potentially contaminated romaine will not find its way into marketing channels.”
Source: Leafy Greens Marketing Agency September 15, 2021 news release