New bacterium affects fresh tomatoes and capsicums

4 June 2008

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has today withdrawn phytosanitary certification for New Zealand fresh tomato and capsicum export produce until further notice, following the confirmation of a new disease-causing bacterium in three commercial hot-house operations in the North Island.

MAFBNZ Director Border Standards Tim Knox says the withdrawal of phytosanitary certification is a pre-cautionary measure until more information about the bacterium is available.

Mr Knox says little is known about if or how the bacterium may have entered New Zealand, or its transmission, effect, and distribution – “we have initiated a programme of research to answer these questions. The results, of this research, will help determine the feasibility of options for managing the disease.

“Initial findings suggest that the bacterium may be transmitted by a small insect called the tomato/ potato psyllid - there are no considered human health issues associated with the bacterium or with eating tomatoes or capsicum.”

Mr Knox says MAFBNZ is working closely with Horticulture New Zealand and sector representatives from the fresh tomato and capsicum industry to discuss the situation and consider possible response options.



For further information, please contact:

Annie Wright | Senior Communications Adviser | Ph 04 894 0654 or 029 894 0654

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