The EU has initiated emergency measures to contain the European outbreak of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus.

As of 1 November seed and plant exporters will need to have their produce verified, with the emergency measures applying to both tomatoes and peppers.

The virus has spread rapidly throughout the continent in the past year, with the UK’s first case reported in August, although the AHDB believe it has since been eradicated.

The ToBRFV virus causes tomato fruits to discolour and misshapen, leaving them unmarketable.

According to AHDB, the measures will mean that EU member states (including the UK) will have to conduct annual surveys for the virus. Any seed moving into and within the EU will require appropriate documentation supported by official sampling and testing.

Plants imported for planting will need to originate in an area free from the virus and be accompanied by appropriate documentation.

More detailed guidance on the testing requirements is likely to be provided by Defra Plant Health in the future.

Nathalie Key, knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, said: “The industry will welcome the emergency measures to help prevent the virus entering the UK.

“While we have had only one outbreak in the UK, which we believe to have been fully eradicated, the industry must remain vigilant. Strict hygiene protocols are a must to reduce the risk of infection in glasshouses.”

The AHDB said that the new measures will be incorporated into British law irrespective of Brexit’s outcome.