At the request of Chile’s plant protection organization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to allow the importing of fresh figs. The proposed rule also would allow the importing of Chilean pomegranates without them having to go through methyl bromide fumigation.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is accepting comments on the proposed rule through May 16.
Under the proposal, figs and pomegranates from Chile would be subject to a “systems approach” regulatory process that would include certification of production and packing sites and testing for the presence of false red mites. If a single false red mite was found at a production or packing site the facility would not be eligible for certification that season.
The proposed rule would require labeling to provide traceability to the production and packing sites. Random samples would be subjected to washing, flushing and lab analysis before harvest, and biometric samples from each consignment would be tested.
Currently, figs are not eligible for import from Chile and pomegranates must be fumigated with methyl bromide to be imported. Estimates from APHIS show imports would be equal to less than 1% of figs and less than 4% of pomegranates consumed annually in the U.S.