U.S. Customs and Border Protection has advised that, effective November 22, it will be increasing inspections on imported tomato and pepper fruit, seed lots and transplants entering at all U.S. ports of entry in order to prevent the introduction of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus and protect the multi-billion dollar U.S. tomato and pepper production industry.
The increased inspections come following a Federal Order issued by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service last week which imposes restrictions on imports of tomato and pepper seed lots and transplants from all countries as well as restrictions on tomato and pepper fruit consignments imported from Mexico, Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands.
APHIS is also prohibiting the importation of tomato and pepper fruits from all countries of origin in passenger baggage.
Tomato brown rugose fruit virus can cause severe fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers. It is easily spread through the use of contaminated tools, hands, and plant-to-plant contact. It was first reported in tomatoes in Israel in 2014. Since then, it has been reported in China, Mexico, Germany (eradicated), Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Turkey, and the Netherlands. The virus was detected and eradicated from a California tomato greenhouse in 2018.
Per the Federal Order, APHIS will:
- Require all imported tomato and pepper seed lots along with other propagative plant materials be tested and/or certified free of the disease.
- Require all tomato and pepper fruit commercial shipments imported from Mexico, Israel, Canada and the Netherlands to be inspected and certified free of disease symptoms.
In addition, CBP will:
Increase inspections of commercial consignments at U.S. ports of entry to ensure imported tomato and pepper fruit entering from Mexico, Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands does not show any signs of disease upon arrival.