EU: EFSA releases citrus black spot assessment

Countries More News Most Read Today's Headline
EU: EFSA releases citrus black spot assessment

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has deemed existing measures to prevent the entry of citrus black spot (CBS) as 'appropriate', dashing any hopes that the EU would loosen restrictions on citrus imports, most notably from South Africa. Easy peelers panorama 4

The European Commission's DG Sanco (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs) will still have to decide on the practical implications of the recent EFSA report, but the findings demonstrate that a policy that does not tolerate significant numbers of CBS interceptions in shipments is unlikely to change.

This policy led to a symbolic, temporary ban on South African citrus exports to the European Union late last year.

EFSA plant health experts carried out assessments under a hypothetical, unregulated market without phytosanitary measures in place, determining that even the import of citrus fruit without leaves would pose a danger to Europe, which currently does not have CBS in its orchards.

In a release, the EFSA said this risk was present because "fruit peel can be dispersed by rain splash", potentially spreading the organism P. citricarpa, which causes CBS.

"To assess this risk, EFSA commissioned a study on how spores found on fruit are spread by rain and wind. For the Tahiti lime fruit without leaves, this risk is considered very low as such spores have never been observed forming on the fruit peel of this citrus species," the release said.

"There is a risk that, following entry, P. citricarpa would establish and spread in the endangered citrus growing areas of the EU; simulation models indicate that P. citricarpa would develop in EU citrus growing areas in late summer to autumn and to a lesser extent in late spring to early summer.

"Should the disease enter a previously unaffected area, limited options are available to reduce the risk of establishment and spread. Therefore the Panel on Plant Health judges those risk reduction options aimed at preventing the entry of the pathogen into the EU to be the most effective."

In conclusion, the panel decided the current measures - if implemented correctly - were effective in reducing the risk of P. citricarpa being introduced to the region.

Related story: EU tightening could pose "huge danger" for global citrus industry





Subscribe to our newsletter