German supermarkets block Almería and Costa Tropical peppers as fears grow the produce has been shipped to other European countries.
Germany has closed its borders to fruit and vegetables grown in the Costa Tropical after health inspectors found traces of an illegal pesticide in two tonnes of peppers grown in Almería.
Supermarket Lidl informed pepper growers along the Granada coast they were suspending all orders after Irofem Fosmetil – a product unauthorised by the European Union – was found in the fruit by authorities in the German state of Baden Wüttemberg during routine inspections on December 28.
Other German supermarkets immediately withdrew produce grown in Almería and Granada from their shelves, on the recommendations of the country’s government.
On January 8, the Junta de Andalucía regional government told a press conference there are fears contaminated peppers had been exported to other European countries.
Madrid has moved to quell fears the discovery of the pesticide will lead to a nationwide health scare. Health Minister Elena Salgado revealed there are no health risks involved in eating peppers treated with Irofem Fosmetil.
The peppers containing the pesticide were grown in 37 invernaderos (plastic greenhouses) in the Almería province. The Junta de Andalucía has refused to name those involved but they are believed to be in and around the town of El Ejido. All face a minimum fine of 12,000 euros.
Although none of the treated peppers had come from the Costa Tropical, Granada farmers’ union COAG believe the area is being unfairly punished.
“Innocent farmers should not pay the consequences of those who are guilty of using an unauthorised pesticide.
“Farmers along the Granada coast are renowned for the quality of their agriculture,” Secretary Emilio Rodríguez said.