9 Jul 2015

Call for halt to all grape imports

8:44 am on 9 July 2015

Labour's biosecurity spokesman is calling for a halt to grape imports until the Government can provide assurances that the grapes are safe to eat and don't pose a pest or disease risk to the wine industry.


Grapes Photo: 123RF

The Primary Industries Ministry has ordered all imported Mexican table grapes to be withdrawn from sale following the discovery of spiders, including poisonous black widows, in some consignments.

Damien O'Connor said while the spiders themselves were not a horticultural threat, their entry into the country showed the potential for other pests and diseases to come in the same way

"If the system fails to pick up a poisonous spider then it's not going to be able to pick up more subtle pestrs and diseases that could clearly threaten our economy as well as the consumers who come into contact with the products."

But Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, said venomous Mexican spiders getting into the country in shipments of grapes did not reflect badly on New Zealand's biosecurity systems.

Black widow spider

Black widow spiders are venomous, but usually don't bite unless disturbed. Photo: 123RF

Mr Guy said 175,000 items crossed the border every day.

He said grapes currently on the way from Mexico would be fumigated or destroyed on arrival.