Citrus black spot control measures
18 March 2008
The Republic of South Africa (RSA) initiated a citrus black spot (CBS) pest risk assessment (PRA) process with the European Union (EU) in December 2000. The aim of the PRA was to prove that CBS is no threat to the European citrus industry. However, since the original submission there have been a number of technical information exchanges between the EU and RSA, but little progress. The latest development is that the issue was referred to the European Food Safety Authority (EFTA).
While we are hoping for a positive response from EFTA within the next few months, the 2008 RSA citrus season is upon us and the local citrus industry has to respond positively to this challenge. With this in mind attention is being given to bolster CBS procedures. To this end, the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) in collaboration with the RSA Department of Agriculture (DoA), is instituting additional control measures to curb the incidences of CBS positive fruit in sensitive markets. These measures have been widely communicated by the PPECB during February 2008 by way of a citrus road show co-ordinated by the Citrus Cold Chain Forum (CCCF) under the auspices of Citrus Research International (CRI).
Essentially the additional measures include the flagging of pallets indicating their CBS status at the pack house level. This informs the database at the PPECB for future reference. The status remains unchanged within the information flow from point of packing to point of export. A final audit will be conducted at the point of export by the PPECB during its certification process as a final mechanism in reducing the risk. This new discipline calls for good co-operation between the regulator and the RSA citrus industry.
Role payers should take note that full implementation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), of which unique and scan-able pallet identification numbers are essential building blocks, by the RSA citrus industry improves the tracking and tracing of pallets within the RSA control system. PPECB will be ably assisting the citrus industry during 2008 to become fully EDI compliant as far as possible.