(April 25) Salad makers and associations that represent them say they hope to punctuate their emphasis on food safety with the April 25 release of “Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Lettuce and Leafy Greens Supply Chain.”

The document, released by the International Fresh-cut Produce Association, the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and Western Growers, is a compendium of best-practices from industry players.

The document identifies specific food-safety guidance to lettuce growers, shippers, packers, processors, transportation providers, retailers and foodservice operators.

“I think that food safety is critical for assuring consumer confidence in the category, and certainly that’s something Fresh Express has had at the forefront for many years,” said Mike Mitchell, spokesman for Chiquita Brands International Inc.-owned Fresh Express Inc., Salinas, Calif.

The associations involved in publication of the document said they would coordinate efforts to implement the safeguards the document identifies.

“We are committed to continue improvement of produce safe handling practices and suggest that all companies involved in the lettuce and leafy-greens supply chain consider the recommendations contained within these guidelines,” Jim Gorny, vice president of quality assurance and technology for United, said in a news release.

IFPA officials say the document had been in the works for years, but an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 involving certain lines of Dole packaged salads in October helped to speed up publication.

The guidelines will be updated periodically, said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ vice president of science and technology.

The guidelines are available on each of the associations’ Web sites, www.fresh-cuts.org, www.pma.com; www.uffva.org; and www.wga.com.