South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says it took an ‘immediate response’ after Dutch authorities intercepted a consignment of fruit infected with citrus black spot (CBS) on Friday.

A DAFF release said it notified the grower and withdrew the production unit in question from further exports to the European Union this season.

“Other fruit types from that production unit already in the export pipeline have also been identified and will be dealt with accordingly,” the release said.

“An investigation has been launched by DAFF in collaboration with the industry to determine the possible causes for the presence of CBS in this fruit.

“Based on the findings, remedial measures will be evaluated and implemented, as appropriate, to prevent reoccurrence. As per previous agreement with the EU, all relevant information will be reported to the EU.”

The release highlighted this was the first time this year this quarantine pest had entered the EU, and that South Africa and its citrus industry had gone to “great lengths” to ensure compliance through a comprehensive CBS risk management system

“This system was further strengthened for the current export season based on detailed investigations of all CBS non-compliances reported in the EU in 2013.

“In addition, all consignments of citrus entering the EU from 24 July 2014 onwards must comply with the new EU measures and associated certification required by the EU regarding CBS, as published in the EU on 3 July 2014.

“The new measures include additional pre-export sampling and inspection requirements. Also, all “Valencia” oranges must have been subject to a chemical symptom expression test.”

DAFF emphasized the strict implementation of risk management processes for the pest would continue to make sure EU trade continued.

“DAFF is committed to compliance with these import measures and to maintaining open channels of communication with the EU.

“The EU remains an important market for South African citrus, therefore full compliance with the EU’s import requirements is critical.”