News Fruit fly: Victorian plant suspended amid Tasmanian alert

Fruit fly: Victorian plant suspended amid Tasmanian alert

The Government says any breakdown in fruit fly controls "is of very serious concern". Photo: Griffith University
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A Victorian fumigation facility has been suspended from the Tasmanian supply chain after the discovery of fruit fly larvae in a nectarine at a Devonport grocery store.

Tasmanian authorities have ordered a statewide recall of all fruit that has come from the mainland facility.

Fruit fly has been found in three locations in Tasmania’s north, the latest in George Town has prompted concern for the Tamar wine district.

The Tasmanian Government has described the incident as a “natural disaster” in terms of potential damage it could do to the state’s economy.

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he had spoken to both the federal and Victorian ministers about the matter.

“Our system of commercial fruit importation relies on fruit being certified as pest free before it comes into Tasmania, including after treatments such as fumigation interstate,” he said in a statement.

A potential breakdown in this system is of very serious concern.”

“However, I am advised by Biosecurity Tasmania that current evidence suggests the supply-chain issue relates to a single fumigation facility, which has now been suspended from the supply chain.”

Mr Rockliff accused Labor of trying to politicise the issue during an election campaign.

He has invited Labor’s agriculture spokesman Shane Broad to a briefing from Biosecurity Tasmania this afternoon.

“I believe the response to the incursion should be managed in a similar way to a natural disaster – that is, it should be above politics and that we put the best interests of our farmers first,” he said.

In a statement, supermarket chain Coles said its 16 stores in Tasmania were complying with the Biosecurity Tasmania order and had removed several fresh produce lines.

“The department has informed Coles that fruit fly has not been found in any fresh produce in Coles stores or distribution centres,” it said.

“The withdrawal of fresh produce is a precautionary measure aimed at minimising the risk of fruit fly spreading.”

The ABC understands supermarkets are now required to double bag, wrap, and store at-risk produce, which includes both fruit and vegetables.

The produce will be inspected by authorities to establish whether it needs to be destroyed, or can be used.

Woolworths said it had withdrawn produce received from the Victorian facility.