Copa-Cogeca: EU commission did not take sufficient action to stop contaminated citrus fruits

Copa-Cogeca regrets that the EU Commission has not taken any measures to stop imports of citrus fruit coming into the EU from South Africa to protect against the spread of the highly contagious disease Black Spot.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen warned “The Commission has decided not to take any action to protect against the disease emerging in European citrus fruit from imports from South Africa after the meeting last week. The Commission said at the start of the year that if 5 cargo loads of produce contaminated with Black Spot were detected at the borders in citrus fruit from South Africa measures will be taken. But there have been more than 5 interceptions at the borders and the Commission still hasn’t taken any measures. It is just waiting for proposals from South Africa when European citrus fruit are in serious danger before it acts".

He continued: “It is crucial to protect our 300,000 hectares of European citrus fruit orchards and 10 million tonnes of produce from being contaminated with Black Spot. The disease currently does not exist in the EU but it can be spread easily from one fruit to another. As many as ten cargo loads of produce contaminated with Black Spot were detected at the borders in citrus fruit from South Africa in September. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also warned of the high risk of contamination. It was only the South African authorities themselves who decided to suspend imports of oranges from certain regions over the period September 18 –October 3 when the export campaign was almost finished and after we demanded all year for action to be taken. This is not sufficient given that Black spot affects all
citrus fruit and is prevalent across the whole of South Africa”.

Wrapping up, he said “The citrus fruit sector is important in Europe both from an economic and social point of view, providing good quality produce for 500 million EU consumers as well as ensuring employment for millions of people in EU rural areas, both upstream and downstream, especially in southern countries. I therefore urge the Commission to take action immediately and suspend the import of citrus fruit from South Africa”.

For more information:
Dominique Dejonckheere
Copa Cogeca
Tel.: +32 2 287 27 30

Amanda Cheesley
Copa Cogeca
Mobile: + 32 474 840 836

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