Emergency measures announced to prevent Tomato brown rugose fruit virus

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

The European Union has announced emergency measures to prevent the introduction and spread of tomato brown rugose fruit virus. The measures will come into force on 1 November 2019.

Even if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October 2019, the emergency measures will still be incorporated into our national legislation.

The measures will mean that EU member states (including the UK) will have to conduct annual surveys for the virus. Any seed moving into and within the EU will require appropriate documentation supported by official sampling and testing.

Plants imported for planting will need to originate in an area free from the virus and be accompanied by appropriate documentation.

More detailed guidance on the testing requirements is likely to be provided by Defra Plant Health in the future.

Nathalie Key, Knowledge Exchange Manager at AHDB, said: “The industry will welcome the emergency measures to help prevent the virus entering the UK.

“While we have had only one outbreak in the UK, which we believe to have been fully eradicated, the industry must remain vigilant. Strict hygiene protocols are a must to reduce the risk of infection in glasshouses.”

The virus was reported for the first time in the UK on a tomato crop this summer and can cause fruit to become discoloured or misshapen and become unmarketable.

The emergency measures will apply to tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and pepper (Capsicum annuum) – the virus has been identified in a pepper crop in Mexico.

Matthew Everatt, Defra, spoke at the Tomato Growers’ Association Conference in September. The presentation is available here:  Download

For all the latest information and guidance on preventing and controlling the virus, visit our knowledge library page.

Summary of new EU measures

Seeds must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate and fulfil the following requirement:

  • Have been officially sampled and tested for the virus (and are negative)

Seeds must be accompanied by a plant passport and fulfil the following requirement:

  • Have been officially sampled and tested for the virus (and are negative)

Tomato and pepper plants must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate and fulfil one of the following requirements:

  • Originate in a country free of the virus; or
  • Originate in an area free of the virus; or
  • Originate in a registered production site known to be free of the virus on the basis of inspection, and derive from seeds that originate from an area free of the virus or from seeds that have undergone testing for the virus (and are negative)

Tomato and pepper plants must be accompanied by a plant passport and fulfil one of the following requirements:

  • Originate in an area free of the virus; or
  • Originate in a production site known to be free of the virus on the basis of inspection, and derive from seeds that originate from an area free of the virus or from seeds that have undergone testing for the virus (and are negative)

The information from Defra was correct at the time of publishing (15 October 2019)