US: CEA Food Safety Coalition details first indoor-farming standards

Inspired by rising food safety concerns after the 2018 Thanksgiving romaine recalls, the CEA Food Safety Coalition is launching the first-ever food safety certification program specifically designed for indoor-grown leafy greens.

“The new standard champions CEA-grown produce as a critical component of safe and secure domestic food supply, especially in times of business disruption as experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Marni Karlin, executive director of the CEA Food Safety Coalition, said in a news release.

“During the Thanksgiving 2019 romaine recall, those government agencies were transparent that CEA leafy greens were safe and did not extend the recall to them. This enabled retailers to keep CEA-produced greens on the shelves and consumers to safely buy CEA leafy greens for their families,” she said in the release.

“Current food safety standards were written for the field, and many don't adequately address the unique attributes of controlled indoor environments,” Karlin said in the release. “Traditional food-safety risk profiles associated with conventional farming include examining the physical hazards and microbial hazards from water use, herbicide and pesticide use, and impact from animals and animal byproducts. These do not impact CEA growers in the same way, if at all.”

The certification program is available to all CEA food safety coalition members for a small fee, and an external audit to the standard must be completed on an annual basis. “Consumer interest in food labels is high and shows a genuine desire to shop smarter,” Karlin said. “For consumers to truly make informed purchasing decisions, we need to explain what the labels mean, the process of certification and which labels they can trust.”

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