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Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) update: December 2021

This is a rolling brief and will be updated on a monthly basis if there are any changes. 

Outbreaks and interceptions

There have been six outbreaks of tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in commercial tomato production sites in England, one in 2019 and five in 2020.

The outbreak site from 2019 was declared eradicated in 2020 following measures that were put in place in 2019, and inspection and testing of the new crop in 2020. The remaining five outbreak sites were declared eradicated in 2021 following surveillance. There are currently no outbreaks of the virus in the UK.

ToBRFV has also been intercepted on imported tomato and pepper seed. Where the virus is confirmed in seed, official action is being taken by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) to contain and eradicate the virus.

Surveillance

In spring 2020 and 2021, the PHSI carried out surveillance of tomato and pepper propagating nurseries, production nurseries and packing sites for ToBRFV, including sampling and testing of plants and fruit where appropriate, and tracing activities at confirmed positive sites. A surveillance programme is also being scheduled for spring 2022.

GB regulations

Since January 1st 2021, the Plant Health (Phytosanitary Conditions) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 have been in force, including measures on imported tomato (solanum lycopersicum) and pepper (Capsicum spp.) seed and plants for planting to prevent the introduction and spread of ToBRFV. The full measures can be found here - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1527/contents/made. The measures for ToBRFV can be found in Schedule 7, Part B, and Schedule 8, Part B.

In addition to the above measures, the import requirements for tomato and pepper seed harvested prior to 15th August 2020 have been updated to allow import of this seed from third countries without the need for an inspection of mother plants until 31st December 2022. This seed must still be sampled and tested for ToBRFV in line with the Plant Health (Phytosanitary Conditions) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. The full details can be found here - Import requirements for seeds of Solanum lycopersicum and Capsicum spp. - UK Plant Health Information Portal (defra.gov.uk).

Tomato and pepper seed from all third countries (including the EU) will also be held and tested in GB when first imported.

In line with all emergency legislation, the effectiveness of these measures is being kept under review, in light of developments and new information about ToBRFV.

Reporting

Suspected findings of ToBRFV or any other non-native plant pest should be notified to the relevant authority:

For England and Wales, contact your local APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspector or the PHSI Headquarters, York. Tel: 01904 405138 Email: planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk

For Scotland, contact the Scottish Government’s Horticulture and Marketing Unit: Email: hort.marketing@gov.scot

For Northern Ireland, contact the DAERA Plant Health Inspection Branch: Tel: 0300 200 7847 Email: planthealth@daera-ni.gov.uk

Further information

For additional information on ToBRFV, please see: