Pretoria — The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has launched an investigation to determine the causes of the presence of Citrus Black Spot (CBS) discovered on a consignment of exported lemons to the European Union (EU).
Last week, the Netherlands' phytosanitary authorities confirmed that laboratory tests had shown that CBS was present in a consignment of South African lemons exported to the EU.
The department's Chief Director: Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Makenosi Maroo, said they were notified about the latest detection of the CBS through the EU EUROPHYT notification system, last Friday.
"An investigation has been launched by the department in collaboration with the industry to determine the possible causes for the presence of CBS in this fruit.
"Based on the findings, remedial measures will be evaluated and implemented, as appropriate, to prevent reoccurrence. As per previous agreement with the EU, all relevant information will be reported to the EU.
Maroo said South Africa has gone to great lengths and expense to ensure compliance with EU requirements through its comprehensive CBS risk management system. She said the intercepted part of the consignment in question was refused entry into the EU territory.
This is the first time, this year that CBS, a quarantine pest for the EU, has been detected in fruit entering the EU from South Africa. "As a department, we've already notified the producer and withdrew the production unit in question from further exports to the EU in the current season. "Other fruit types from that production unit already in the export pipeline have also been identified and will be dealt with accordingly," she said. Maroo said the risk management system was further strengthened for the current export season based on detailed investigations of all CBS non-compliances reported in the EU in 2013.
She said all consignments of citrus entering the EU from Thursday, onwards must comply with the new EU measures and associated certification required by the EU regarding CBS, as published in the EU, earlier this month.
The new measures include additional pre-export sampling and inspection requirements. All "Valencia" oranges must have been subject to a chemical symptom expression test.
"Strengthening and strict implementation of risk management processes for CBS will continue in order to ensure that trade with the EU continues. The department is committed to compliance with these import measures and to maintaining open channels of communication with the EU," she said. Maroo said as the EU remains an important market for South African citrus; full compliance with the EU's import requirements is critical.