| April 2013. Help was requested by St Helena concerning treatment of apples and pears from South Africa.St Helena imports apples and pears by ship from Cape Town, South Africa (monthly voyages of 6 days at zero degrees (around 50 – 60 cartons of apples and same of pears imported each voyage). They are inspected on the basis of 100 pieces of fruit in every 10 cartons for fruit flies, Ceratitis spp, Codling moth and Oriental fruit moth. In 10 years the inspection team has not made a single interception of a quarantine pest. There is no apple or pear growing industry on the island, which is sub-tropical. So can we reduce the inspection sample, and if so to what?
Overall, I think we have a good case to split the arriving produce into 3 categories: high risk (eg stone fruit), low risk (eg pome fruit) and very low/no risk (eg onion – we currently do only cursory visual inspections and a sniff for rot). This way we can focus on the high risk and accelerate the inspection and release of low risk produce. An outside view on these new procedures was requested.
In response, members said the following:
1. As you say the risk seems low as you have found nothing despite quite intensive sampling. This suggests something is being done to the fruit prior to export, perhaps in the orchard or perhaps a postharvest treatment. What phytosanitary conditions do you have on your import permit, it sounds as if these are being complied with. If you do not issue import permits with phytosanitary conditions, it is suggested that you get in contact with the biosecurity authority in RSA and find out what they are doing. This may already be sufficient. Don’t listen to the exporter or importer they are unlikely to know what is required and will be biased!
2. You could safely try to reduce your inspection sample size. There is little statistical advantage in inspecting more than 600 fruit irrespective of the size of the consignment. Change your sample size to 600 fruit only. This will reduce your work load with no (minimal) increased risk. Even if a treatment is done prior to export you should still do the 600 fruit on arrival to validate that the treatment continues to be effective.
3. A periodic review is done under ISPM 12: “periodic review of import and export inspection systems to validate any appropriateness of their design and to determine any course of adjustments needed to ensure that they are technically sound”.
4. In addition, the voyage of 6 days at 0 degrees Celsius for the 50-60 cartons is likely to eliminate any incursions across the border, in addition to the pre-shipment treatment in the country of origin (Cape Town) whether that be irradiation, vapour heat treatment or fumigation. You will probably or must have a copy of the freezer data-log of the ship specifying the details of temperature for the 6 days voyage. Also, it would be good to have a surveillance system of traps around the island for early detection for fruit flies and moths.