(UPDATED COVERAGE, JUNE 4, 4:54 P.M.) The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement is starting a promotion for produce buyers to better understand how the agreement works.


The organization wants buyers to know that the audits conducted through its program are the only ones needed to ensure leafy greens meet the highest food safety standards, said Scott Horsfall, chief executive officer.


Horsfall said Dennis Kihlstadius was hired as a consultant in April to meet personally with major produce buyers about how audits work under the agreement and its food safety protocol. Horsfall said Kihlstadius is working on compiling contacts with buyers and will be meeting with companies this summer.


"The goal is to make sure we are doing everything we can to raise awareness of the marketing agreement," Horsfall said.


Horsfall said he does not have a large enough staff to send someone on the road regularly and Kihlstadius' relationship with the industry is a major asset. Horsfall said Kihlstadius will work with the organization for as long as it takes to meet with produce buyers.


The another goal of Kihlstadius' work is to eliminate duplicative audits buyers often require of growers in addition to audits performed under the agreement, Horsfall said.


Horsfall said the organization has an open-ended agreement with Kihlstadius and expects it to take several months to meet with all major buyers.


"What we ultimately want to achieve is building support for LGMA food safety certification among buyers," he said.