USDA proposes new phytosanitary rules for Chilean table grape imports

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USDA proposes new phytosanitary rules for Chilean table grape imports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Oct. 14 published a proposed change in Chilean grape fumigation rules. APHIS is accepting comments on the possible rules change until Dec. 16, 2022.

APHIS recommends that commercially produced shipments of fresh table grapes originating from Chile’s Arica and Parinacota, Tarapaca, Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, and Valparaiso regions could be imported into the United States under a systems approach or irradiation without the risk of introducing quarantine pests. 

In February 2022, Fresh Fruit Portal indicated that these rules changes would not apply to Chile’s O'Higgins or Metropolitan regions. O’Higgins accounts for 29.5 percent of Chile’s table grape harvest, would not receive the distinction. The Metropolitan Region, responsible for 15 percent of the harvest. 

APHIS prepared a pest risk assessment (PRA) and a commodity import evaluation document (CIED) relative to the importation into the United States of fresh table grapes from regions of Chile where European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana, EGVM) is either absent or at very low prevalence. Chile grapes are currently subject to methyl bromide fumigation for European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana, EGVM) and Chilean false red mite (Brevipalpus chilensis). 

Based on the pest risk assessment and CIED findings, USDA proposes to authorize the importation of grapes from Chile under a systems approach or irradiation for EGVM and B. chilensis. Current mitigation measures for Ceratitis capitata, or Medfly, would remain unchanged.

In December 2021, when Chile’s fruit associations, Fedefruta and ASOEX, were working to obtain U.S. approval of the systems approach protocol, Fresh Fruit Portal reported the systems approach project is presented as an alternative to the methyl bromide fumigation required by the USDA. The Chileans have worked for years to bring these changes, which will improve the quality Chilean grapes.

FFP’s report also indicated that the system approach, as a pest mitigation method, prevents spoilage, extends the time at destination markets and preserves the organic quality of the fruit, one of the main attractions of the Chilean table grape.

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