Outbreaks and interceptions
There have been eight outbreaks of tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in commercial tomato production sites in England, one in 2019, five in 2020, one in 2022 and one in 2023.
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 five outbreak sites from 2020 were declared eradicated in 2021 following surveillance. However, one of these outbreak sites was reinfected and the outbreak was redeclared in 2022. A new outbreak was also declared at another tomato production site in 2022, and another was declared in 2023. Eradication measures are being applied at all three sites.
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.
In spring 2020 - 2023, 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 2024.
Since January 1st 2021, ToBRFV has been a GB quarantine pest with measures on import and movement of 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. The measures for ToBRFV can be found in Schedule 7, Part B, point 6 and 7, and Schedule 8, Part B point 2 and 3.
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 2023. 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.
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: email@example.com
For Scotland, contact the Scottish Government’s Horticulture and Marketing Unit: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Northern Ireland, contact the DAERA Plant Health Inspection Branch: Tel: 0300 200 7847 Email: email@example.com
For additional information on ToBRFV, please see: