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IRVINE, Calif. - While federal lawmakers listened to testimony from leaders of the produce and meat industry yesterday during the first in a series of hearings examining the allegedly flawed national food safety framework, Western Growers Association (WGA) here was cheering the green light given this week by California officials for the farm industry's plan to establish voluntary safety standards for leafy vegetables.
The plan would create a "seal of approval" to let consumers know that spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens were grown and handled according to the new rules. While participation is voluntary, backers say the program is a first step toward adopting mandatory rules for all growers.
"The certification of the marketing agreement is another milestone in what has become an intense and timely response to consumers' call for action," said Tom Nassif, WGA's president and c.e.o. "The message has been heard and we are responding."
Western Growers is an agriculture trade association whose members grow, pack and ship about half of the nation's fresh produce.