Spain's CGC calls for EU to stop citrus imports from Turkey
Spain's Citrus Management Committee (CGC) has urged the European Commission to stop citrus imports from Turkey amid pesticide residue that has been detected on certain fruits.
Official inspectors have confirmed that the imports of lemons, oranges and mandarins either exceed the maximum permissible residue limit or have been treated with active substances that are prohibited by the EU.
Data from the RASFF system, the EU’s rapid alert network for food, reported that 54 rejections of Turkish citrus at the border were recorded in 2020, five times higher than in 2019.
Throughout January, two shipments on average per day set off an alarm when passing scheduled inspections, bringing the current total for 2021 to 57.
The vast majority of these shipments were flagged for the presence of unauthorized phytosanitary products.
“The RASFF figures are very concerning and require immediate attention from the EU health authorities because this could turn into a food safety problem,” President of the CGC, Inmaculada Sanfeliu said.
Last year, in total there were 26 batches rejected due to phytosanitary problems, but this year that amount has been exceeded by one.
Mandarins and oranges were added to the EU’s “special surveillance” food list for the first time in May 2020, and it was from then on when it was established that the frequency of border controls was five percent of the shipments.
The CGC calls on DG Sanco, the authority for food safety, to raise this minimum inspection threshold “immediately” in the case of mandarins to 30 or 40 percent.
The association also says to potentially warn the Turkish authorities of a possible temporary ban on imports to the EU until it is proven that they can comply with current regulations.
Turkey, with average annual imports of 257,000 metric tons (MT) in Europe in the last five years, is the third non-EU country in the Mediterranean with the largest presence in the EU.