The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) yesterday launched a new subcommittee to investigate the role of adjacent lands in outbreaks of foodborne illnesses.

The action was an immediate response to an FDA report last month. It showed that cattle grazing near romaine lettuce fields was “the most likely contributing factor associated with” E. coli outbreaks last fall. The three outbreaks, traced to lettuce from the Salinas Valley, sickened 188 people.

LGMA has been performing a comprehensive review of the food safety practices required of its growers.

“Current requirements under the LGMA call for assessments of environmental conditions in and around leafy greens fields,” said LGMA CEO Scott Horsfall in a statement. “But it’s clear more can to be done to keep pathogens out of our farms.”

The subcommittee will investigate factors like distance, barriers, weather and ‘good neighbor’ policies.