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IP/97/1117

Brussels, 12 December 1997

The ban on imports of pistachios from Iran is lifted subject to tough health controls

The European Commission has decided to lift the temporary ban imposed on imports of pistachios from Iran on 8 September this year. Imports were suspended for three months because many batches were contaminated by aflatoxin B1, an extremely toxic substance. Following contacts with the Iranian authorities and on-the-spot inspections, and with the agreement of the Member States, the Commission has now decided to allow imports of Iranian pistachios subject to certain conditions: for each consignment the Iranian authorities must provide documentary evidence relating to the conditions of production, sorting, handling, processing, packaging and transport, and the results of laboratory analysis of the consignment for levels of aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxin. In addition, the Member States' competent authorities must ensure that, before being released on to the European market, every consignment is subjected to systematic sampling and analysis for aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxin.

Before deciding to impose a temporary ban on imports of Iranian pistachios in September (see IP/97/782), the Commission asked the Iranian authorities to guarantee sufficient sanitary conditions to avoid this type of contamination in future. At the time the Iranian authorities said that they were unable to give such guarantees for the time being. The situation has changed in the meantime. The Iranian authorities are now able to provide laboratory analyses indicating the level of aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxin for each batch for export.

With the agreement of the Member States, the Commission has therefore decided to allow imports of pistachios from Iran subject to certain conditions: for each consignment of pistachios the Iranian authorities must provide documentary evidence relating to the conditions of production, sorting, handling, processing, packaging and transport, and the results of laboratory analysis of the consignment for levels of aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxin. In addition, pistachios must enter European Union territory through one of the entry points listed and annexed to the Decision, where the Member States must check the consignment documents.


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