Fresh produce retailers across New Zealand are removing imported Mexican table grapes from their shelves, following the discovery of spiders in a number of small consignments from the Central American nation.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has responded to10 separate reports of spiders being found in grape packages around the country. MPI’s surveillance manager Brendan Gould said it is likely that some grapes from the affected shipments will have already been sold, with the ministry advising consumers to be on the lookout.
“We have received 10 reports of spider detections – five are suspected black widows, one is a suspected brown widow, two are likely to be yellow sac spiders and a further two are as yet unidentified,” Gould said. “We recommend that if people have recently bought imported table grapes, they should carefully check them for the presence of any insects.”
Despite the discoveries, market access has not been revoked, with Gould insisting that none of the spiders identified to date pose a risk to New Zealand’s horticultural industries.
“There are strict controls in place for the importation of grapes from Mexico (and other countries),” Gould said. “In the case of Mexico, grapes are visually inspected and if spiders or other pests are identified, there is a requirement for fumigation. We take this matter very seriously and we are investigating how this breach has occurred and taking measures to tighten up the system.
"Importers of Mexican grapes that are in transit here are being given the option of treating or destroying them on arrival in New Zealand. Mexico’s exporting season for grapes has now finished for the year.”