California leafy green grower-shippers are optimistic that Canada will ease its restrictions on their product later this year.
Last October, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) implemented temporary import measures aimed at preventing contaminated food from entering the marketplace.
CFIA requires importers to either provide proof that romaine lettuce destined for import into Canada does not originate from counties in the Salinas Valley, or provide an official certificate of analysis from an accredited laboratory confirming that the lettuce has below-detectable levels of E. coli.
The LGMA food safety program will now require members to assess each of their fields to determine if certain risks such as proximity to animal operations exist. For fields that meet these criteria, LGMA members will be required to collect product samples and test them to determine if pathogens are present.
Tim York, CEO of the LGMA, said on a United Fresh webinar July 27 that LGMA has been working with CFIA, and it is considering the LGMA’s new preharvest testing requirement as a condition for importing lettuce and leafy greens into Canada.
The LGMA said this could offer an alternative to the finished product testing requirement issued last year which was extremely onerous.
York said LGMA expects the final CFIA romaine import requirements to be communicated by late August or early September 2021, and then he’s hopeful that U.S. retail and foodservice operations will follow that lead.