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US suspends certain citrus imports from Berkane, Morocco

The December 14 detection by US Customs of live Medfly in a clementines shipment from Morocco’s Berkane region has provoked a suspension to certain citrus imports by the US from that area.

Recent inspections of clementines from Morocco’s Berkane region at their US entry port of Philadelphia found live Medfly larvae, thus prompting an import ban on sweet oranges, tangerines, clementines and mandarins from the region.

And under the December 23 Federal Order suspending the imports, all shipments of such citrus from other parts of Morocco must be certified as not having passed through Berkane province at any point along the supply chain.

According to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) order, any shipments that were currently on the water bound for the US from Berkane would be allowed to enter the US if they arrive at a port of entry north of 39 degrees latitude and east of 104 degrees longitude by January 6, pass cold treatment and show no pest risk upon inspection.

Prior to the order, tangerine, clementine, mandarin, and sweet orange fruit were authorised for importation into the US from all regions of Morocco, subject to an operational work plan requiring orchard and packinghouse registration, Medfly trapping, packinghouse inspections (including fruit cutting), lot identification, cold treatment and inspection upon arrival.

However, the December 14 detection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of live Medfly on commercial consignments of clementines (Citrus reticulata) from the Berkane region has provoked a suspension to this system.

Medfly larvae (image: US Agricultural Research Service)

“This prohibition will remain until APHIS and Morocco’s national plant protection organization investigate and take necessary actions to mitigate the pest risk; this may include revision to the conditions for importation of tangerines, clementines, and mandarin fruit (Citrus reticulata) and sweet orange fruit from that region,” APHIS said.

It said the order aims to prevent the entry or introduction of the Medfly, a harmful plant pest, from Morocco into the US. Medfly is not known to be established in the US except in Hawaii and its introduction and establishment would pose a serious threat to US agriculture.

“It is a widespread tropical and subtropical species, ranging from South Mexico to Argentina, as well as throughout the Mediterranean, parts of Europe, and all of Africa. It is also established in Western Australia. It is estimated that the species would be able to establish populations in southern regions of the United States (Plant Hardiness Zones 9-11).”

Source: Federal Order
Medfly image at top: US Agricultural Research Service
Also see: US bans certain citrus imports from Morocco over medfly risk (Feb 1, 2016)

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Tighter fruit and veg import checks paying off, says EU

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.

Table grapes from Peru and aubergines and Chinese celery from Cambodia are to be under tighter scrutiny for pesticide residues by the European Union.

They are among food products recently added to a European Commission list of imports targeted for food safety controls over and above the routine ones.

Among other foods joining the watchlist are:

  • Vine leaves from Turkey (pesticide residues)
  • Dragon fruit from Vietnam (pesticide residues)
  • Betel leaves from India and Thailand (salmonella)
  • Dried apricots from Turkey (sulphites)

Some products have now been taken off the list having achieved satisfactory levels of compliance, among them:

  • Pomelos from China (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Oranges from Egypt (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Frozen strawberries from China (tested for norovirus and hepatitis A virus)
  • Coriander and basil from Thailand (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Coriander, basil and mint from Thailand (tested for the presence of salmonella)

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.


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In a report on the results of its reinforced border checks in 2014, the Commission said nearly 100,000 consignments subject to these controls reached EU borders in 2014. “Of those, 11,291 were sampled for laboratory analysis and 496 (i.e. 4.4%, slightly above the 2013 result of 4.1%) were found in breach of EU legislation and were prevented from entering the EU market,” it said.

In a press release, the Commission said the report shows “that the system of controls at EU borders on fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries is protecting consumers from potential food safety risks.”

The report is published in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 on an increased level of official controls on certain imports of food and feed of non-animal origin, which contains the list (reviewed on a quarterly basis) of imports subject to increased border controls.

The following tables are excerpts from the report, which can be read in full here.
The list of “Feed and food of non-animal origin subject to an increased level of official controls at the designated point of entry” can be seen here.




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