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NZ stop apple exports to China after rot detected

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-25 14:36

WELLINGTON -- New Zealand apple exports to China have been suspended after post-harvest rot was found on three consignments by Chinese authorities, New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Wednesday.

The rot, caused by the fungus Neofabraea alba (N.alba) posed no food safety risk, but had been identified as a quarantine pest by China for plant health reasons, according to MPI.

"The New Zealand government and apple industry are working with Chinese quarantine officials to provide all the technical and scientific information about N.alba that they have requested," MPI manager import and export plants Stephen Butcher said in a statement.

MPI and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials had met with China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) counterparts in Beijing and discussions were continuing.

"It is important that AQSIQ is given the technical information they need to assess the risk of the pathogen being brought into China. These kinds of notifications happen from time to time in international trade. MPI and Chinese officials are working collaboratively to resolve the matter," said Butcher.

Chinese authorities have identified a small number of production sites and packhouses in the Hawke's Bay region, on the east of the North Island, where the consignments originated from, and had requested that apples from those sites be suspended from exporting to China.

"Industry has informed us that in response to the rot being detected -- and considering this apple export season is almost over -- it has voluntarily suspended all apple exports to China for the remainder of the season."

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