Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Resolution to the Canary Island prohibition on exports of potatoes from the UK
Note to exporters, traders and Trade Associations:
Following the ban on exports of UK potatoes introduced by the Canary Islands on the 24 August 2023, Defra with assistance from the British Embassy in Madrid, has engaged with the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) to develop a solution to the issue.
- On 1 September, Defra presented information to MAPA on the current single isolated outbreak of Colorado beetle detected in Kent in July 2023 and the separate unrelated finding of a single adult male beetle in Hampshire in July 2023. The negotiations were conducted in a positive spirit, concluding with a recognition by MAPA of the UK’s right to continue to claim country freedom status for the pest in line with the International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM8). MAPA agreed to review the information internally and to consult with the regional plant health authorities in the Canary Islands on the evidence provided by the UK.
- On 11 September, following that period of consultation, Defra were notified of the outcome of the consultation, which is that exports of UK potatoes to the Canary Islands can recommence provided all consignments meet a specific set of requirements. Defra sought clarification from MAPA on some aspects of the requirements, including the tolerance for soil and packaging
- On 19 September, MAPA provided clarification regarding the tolerance for soil and the packaging requirements
- On 22 September, MAPA confirmed that consignments from England must be checked to ensure that they do not originate from the county of Kent
The details of the requirements are set in the next section of this note: Current requirements for exports of potatoes to the Canary Islands, applicable from 22 September 2023.
Additional information on the consignments detained by the Canary Island authorities is contained in the section: Consignments of potato currently detained by the Canary Islands.
Current requirement for exports of potatoes to the Canary Islands applicable from 22 September 2023
- The potatoes must undergo a cleaning process by means of brushing and/or washing to completely eliminate any soil and harmful organisms. The maximum soil tolerance is 0.5%.
- Seed potatoes must be packed in new bags, with a maximum capacity of 25 kilograms, which must be sealed and labelled at designated facilities that guarantee the health and traceability of the potatoes and are under the official control of the plant health authorities responsible for the production areas.
- Ware potatoes may be packed in containers with a maximum capacity of 1.5 tonnes, which must also be sealed and labelled at designated facilities that guarantee the health and traceability of the potatoes and are under the official control of the plant health authorities responsible for the production areas
We anticipate that closing/sealing of containers and new bags will use existing industry methods
- As well as providing information on the potatoes (species, producer code, variety, size, date of packing), the label must include traceability information enabling the identification of the producer and the production area at field level.
N.B. No prescribed template for the above labelling requirements has been provided by MAPA/Canary Island Authorities. In the absence of such information, we recommend that you follow a similar approach to that which is shown below.
- Consignments from England must be checked to ensure they do not originate from the county of Kent
Consignments of potato currently detained by the Canary Islands
Defra has sought clarification on what the new restrictions mean for consignments of UK potatoes currently detained by the Canary Island authorities. This included a suggestion to retrospectively provide the additional traceability information that is now required under the new requirements to enable them to be released.
MAPA has confirmed that consignments which are on hold can be authorised for entry if they fulfil the requirements set out above, including the labelling and soil tolerance requirements. Consignments from England must be checked to ensure they do not originate from the county of Kent.
UK business affected should plan as soon as possible to carry out this action.
For any instances of non-compliance of consignments from the UK with the new requirements that become apparent, Defra has requested that MAPA communicates details as soon as possible, to allow them to be resolved swiftly.
22 September 2023