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Due to fruit fly discovery

Tasmania maintains import ban on Victorian fumigator

Last week, a Victorian pest fumigation plant, one of the largest in the state, was linked to the discovery of fruit fly larvae in a nectarine at a grocery store in Devonport, in Tasmania’s north. The produce processed at the facility was banned in Tasmania starting Tuesday last.

Now Tasmania’s ban on fruit and vegetables processed by the Victorian fumigator looks to enter a second week. Biosecurity Tasmania spokesman Warwick Brennan said the ban was only for produce from that facility, which is believed to be in the outer Melbourne suburb of Epping and owned by the Freshmax Group.

“The suspension is in place while the matter is investigated and any identified requirements addressed,” Mr Brennan said. “Biosecurity Tasmania is continuing to liaise with Victorian authorities in relation to the matter.”

A Freshmax spokesman said the company maintained full accreditation and certification at all of its sites. “The details and facts of the latest incident in Tasmania remain under investigation. We are working closely with all relevant authorities and are fully supportive of their processes and requirements at this time.”

According to weeklytimesnow.com, agriculture Victoria spokes­man Lewis Hill said the Victorian Government was holding discussions with senior biosecurity managers from Tasmania to restore trade as soon as possible. He said the fumigator, one of five in Victoria, was still operational.

Tasmania is fiercely protective of its “fruit fly-free” status, which grants it access to premium export markets in Japan, Korea, the US, Taiwan and China, producing revenues of tens of millions of dollars a year.

The latest detection in Devonport prompted a state-wide recall of all fresh produce sourced from Victoria. There have been multiple fruit fly outbreaks this summer, leading to fears internal trade will be impacted. The latest incursion has led the Tasmanian Government to describe the situation as akin to a “natural disaster”.

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