Thai mangosteen

Mangosteen on sale at a Thai market

Thailand may temporarily halt the sale of fresh vegetables to the European Union (EU) until March 2014 to avoid being banned from future exports over issues with contaminated produce.

That's according to a report in the Bangkok Post, which noted that the restriction on exports could cause a shortage of Thai products in the UK.

The paper reported that that last year, the EU discovered insects in 16 fresh vegetables exported from Thailand for use in traditional Thai cooking including basil, chilli and capsicum peppers, aubergine, bitter gourds and parsley.

The EU put Thailand on a warning notice and said it would ban the import of Thai products if further insects were found on produce more than five times over the space of 12 months from March 2013.

But, the Bangkok Post reported, the EU has found insects in Thai vegetable exports five times already this year.

It added that the Department of Agriculture, under the Agriculture and Co-operatives Ministry, is likely to issue a ban on the export of fresh vegetables to the EU until after 14 March, 2014 - when the 12-month warning period expires.

According to a survey by the Thai Trade Office in London, prices of Thai vegetables have risen by 40 to 50 per cent since the EU implemented strict rules on chemical residue and insects in Thai products.

Importers are turning to Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cyprus and Spain to find similar products, while imports of dried herbs such as sweet basil leaves have also increased.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Posthas also reported that the EU has found flies in guava imported from Thailand for the third time since a similar warning notice was imposed on the Thai fruit market.

Thailand is being threatened with a ban on the export of fresh fruit to the EU if insects are found more than five times over a 12-month period commencing 1 August, 2013.