Two leaders from the retail and foodservice buying community were honored by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Atlanta, GA. Bill Pool of Wegmans and Mike Spinazzola of Diversified Restaurant Systems, the produce buying arm for IPC and SUBWAY restaurants, were announced as recipients of the LGMA’s Golden Checkmark Award. The Golden Checkmark is given to recognize individuals and organizations that support mandatory government inspection of food safety practices in the produce industry.
“These two recipients are industry leaders in the field of food safety, each working to protect public health by maintaining the highest food safety standards for their companies. They are exceptional examples of representatives from firms who have committed to accept the LGMA’s mandatory government audits as the only third-party inspection required of their leafy greens suppliers,” said LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall.
Bill Pool is the Manager of Ag Production and Research for Rochester, NY-based grocery store Wegmans. Wegmans is a family-owned, 79-store chain which was founded in 1916 and is still owned and operated by members of the Wegman family. Wegmans has built a reputation as one of the most successful regional grocery chains in the country with a strong commitment to food safety, sustainability and buying locally. Wegmans is a long-time supporter of the LGMA and does not require any other kind of food safety audit beyond the rigorous system of government inspections available through the LGMA. They also utilize USDA government audits for their locally-sourced product.
Meanwhile, as President and COO of Diversified Restaurant Systems, Mike Spinazzola has been instrumental in steering SUBWAY one of the largest restaurant chains in the world, to a policy which favors USDA government audits as its preferred means for inspecting produce farming operations and accepts the LGMA’s mandatory government audit as the only one required of its leafy green suppliers.
“Farmers of leafy greens are committed to protecting public health and we are very pleased that these two individuals and their companies have recognized the culture of food safety which has been established on leafy greens farms through the LGMA,” said Jamie Strachan, chairman of the LGMA and CEO of Salinas-based Growers Express, LLC, which produces iceberg and leaf lettuces, in addition to other vegetable crops. “Accepting the LGMA audit is an essential step in eliminating costly duplicative inspections often required of produce farmers.”
As part of the award presentation, two leafy greens farmers were featured in a video thanking Pool and Spinazzola for their support of the LGMA program and for acknowledging all that leafy greens farmers do to produce a safe product. These videos can be viewed at www.lgma.ca.gov/blog