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Your Resource For Leafy Greens Food Safety.

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) wants you to know what is being done on the farm to keep leafy greens safe.

We encourage you to use this site as a resource to learn more about the LGMA model food safety program, discover leafy greens varieties, regions and producers, find delicious recipes and more. Click on the images below or simply scroll down to learn more.

Farm Food Safety

Farm Food Safety

In 2007 the California leafy greens industry made an unprecedented commitment to protecting public health through the creation of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA). Working collaboratively with university and industry scientists, food safety experts, government officials, farmers, shippers and processors, the LGMA created a unique and rigorous science based food safety system that protects public health by reducing potential sources of contamination and establishes a culture of food safety on the farm.

LGMA members are companies (usually referred to as handlers) that ship and sell lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens products. Member companies, working with hundreds of farmers throughout California and Arizona, are responsible for approximately 90% of the leafy greens grown in the United States.

LGMA membership is not mandatory but once a company decides to join, it subjects itself to mandatory government audits provided by USDA-certified, government inspectors. LGMA members are audited multiple times throughout the season and must achieve 100 percent compliance with the LGMA food safety program practices. Scroll down to learn more about the 6 principal elements of the program.

Six Principle

One Model Food
Safety Program.

Model Program: Experienced and Proven

Model Program

The LGMA food safety program has been successfully implemented since 2007 and provides a system that can be easily adapted for a wide range of farming operations and products. The diagram below illustrates the six principal elements that are at the heart of the LGMA food safety program.

  1. 1) Assess Risks

    Experts have identified specific food safety hazards associated with the production of leafy greens for water, soil amendments, environmental conditions, worker practices and field operations. LGMA members must review their own operations for these potential food safety hazards.

  2. 2) Apply Science

    The food safety practices used every day by LGMA members and their growers are designed to reduce potential sources of contamination and give specific and science-based guidance to be used for growing and harvesting leafy greens.

  3. 3) Document Practices

    LGMA members are required to document that all required food safety practices have been implemented. Documentation is audited by government inspectors.

  1. 4) Verify Compliance

    Compliance with food safety practices is verified through mandatory audits of leafy greens farms by USDA-trained government inspectors. The audit covers farming, harvesting and cooling operations. Members are subject to several mandatory inspections annually, both scheduled and unannounced.

  2. 5) Provide Corrective Actions

    Corrective action is required on any and all findings cited during government audits. Preventative actions are also required to further protect public health. Completion of corrective and preventative actions is verified upon subsequent re-inspection. Each LGMA member is required to be in compliance with all LGMA food safety practices in order to achieve certification.

  3. 6) Promote Transparency

    Certification status, including any decertification actions, of LGMA member companies is listed on the LGMA website at all times. In addition the LGMA website provides access to the food safety practices, the audit checklist and annual reports which provide inspection and citation data.

Service Mark

Service Mark

The LGMA Service Mark provides assurance for grocery stores, restaurants and other institutions that product bearing the mark has been grown according to the food safety practices accepted by the LGMA via mandatory government audits.

Food Safety at Home

Food Safety at Home

By the time leafy green vegetables reach your kitchen, California farmers and handlers have taken many actions to assure their safety including regular government inspections. Even with a rigorous food safety program in place, it is important for consumers to take steps to maintain safety all the way to the table. Practicing safe-handling methods in the kitchen can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and keep your family healthy.

Below are the basics of leafy greens food safety at home.


Make sure that the leafy greens you buy are fresh and not damaged.

Do not buy packaged salads and leafy greens that are not refrigerated at the store.

Check that packaged leafy greens like salads are refrigerated at the store before buying.

Refrigerate all cut or cooked leafy greens within two hours.

Throw away leafy greens that have not been refrigerated within two hours of cutting, peeling or cooking.

Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh leafy greens.

Clean all surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap that will be and have been in contact with fresh leafy greens before and after food preparation.

Never use detergent or bleach to wash leafy greens.

Rinse leafy greens under cool running tap water. Packaged leafy greens labelled “ready-to-eat”, “washed” or “triple washed” need not be washed.

Remove and throw away damaged portions of leafy greens when preparing to cook them or before eating them raw.

Separate leafy greens from household chemicals and raw foods such as meat, poultry and seafood in your shopping cart and in bags at checkout.

Keep leafy greens separate from raw meat, poultry or seafood in your refrigerator.

Don’t use the same cutting board used to cut raw meat, poultry or seafood without cleaning with hot water and soap before and after preparing leafy greens.

Cook or throw away leafy greens that have touched raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.

throw away

When in doubt, throw away leafy greens that have been sitting in your fridge for a long time or have been in contact with raw meat, poultry or seafood.



Leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins A and C and are very low in calories and sodium. In addition to containing calcium, beta-carotene, iron, fiber and other nutrients they have been associated with the reduced risk of certain cancers. Lettuce is one of the healthiest foods on earth and is recommended as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Try these delicious healthy leafy greens recipes and share them with your friends!

Romaine Salad

View full recipe

Crispy Kale Chips

View full recipe

Roasted Grape & Goat Cheese Salad with Baby Greens Mix

View full recipe

Cabbage Slaw

View full recipe

Butter Lettuce Bundles

View full recipe

Did you know? Over 200 billion servings of leafy greens have been grown under the LGMA model food safety program.

-AJ Cisney, Leafy Greens Grower
  Santa Maria, CA



Food safety must be a priority for every producer. This is a vital part of protecting public health; and the livelihood of farmers and industry depends on our ability to provide safe, wholesome and delicious food for consumers. While most agree that the LGMA food safety practices are rigorous and among the most stringent in the nation, the LGMA staff and Board remain committed to regular outreach to farmers through educational seminars and personal contact to help shippers, farmers and harvest crews maintain a strong level of compliance with the food safety practices.

LGMA member companies represent approximately 99% of the volume of the California leafy greens products.

Food Safety Q&A: Three Questions For Dick Giannini

“The two best tools on any farm are experience and education. They are at the heart of the LGMA model food safety program, where growers and handlers voluntarily submit to frequent government inspection and take any needed corrective actions in order to protect public health. Experience with inspections leads to more targeted research and training, which results in ongoing improvements and education on the farm.”

-AJ Cisney,
Leafy Greens Grower
Santa Maria, CA

“The LGMA is proof that the government and farming communities can work very well together.”

-Tom Ikeda,
Leafy Greens Grower
Oceano, CA

All LGMA members in good standing are listed on the members section of this website.

Varieties and Regions


California produces a vast amount of the leafy green products that Americans enjoy each year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture in 2008 California farmers contributed the following amounts of leafy green product to the U.S. supply:

  • 80% of Romaine lettuce
  • 80% of Leaf lettuce
  • 78% of Head lettuce
  • 72% of Spinach
  • 20% of Cabbage
The following crops are covered by the California LGMA program:
Butter Lettuce
Red Leaf

Baby Leaf Lettuce
Green Leaf
Spring Mix


Growing Regions

Sunny California has several growing regions ideal for producing leafy green crops continuously throughout the year.

The Central Coast is the largest growing region with many farms around the cities of Salinas, Santa Maria and Oxnard. Most products are grown here from April to November, some products can be grown year round.

The San Joaquin Valley Region, spanning the middle of the state, has two brief growing seasons in the spring and fall that fills the gap between Central Coast and Desert lettuce production.

Farmers in the Desert Region grow lettuce and other leafy green products in the winter months allowing consumers to enjoy fresh salad all year long.

Area 1:

San Joaquin Valley

Spring and fall production

Area 2:

Central Coast Region-

April through

Area 3:

Desert Region-

November to March

Roasted Grapes & Goat Cheese Salad with Baby Greens Mix



Yields: 4 Servings

Download a printable
PDF of this recipe

Baked Kale Chips Spiked with Chili Parmesan Garlic Salt



Yields: 4 to 6 Cups

Download a printable
PDF of this recipe

Butter Lettuce Bundles with Thai Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salad



Yields: 6 Servings

Download a printable
PDF of this recipe

Romaine and Butter Lettuce with Avocado, Radish, Grapefruit, Pine Nuts and Herbed Vinaigrette



Yields: 6 Servings

Download a printable
PDF of this recipe

Spinach and Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Roasted Beets and Sesame Vinaigrette



Yields: 6 Servings

Download a printable
PDF of this recipe