NZ potato virus will not affect the country’s favorite snacks

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Potato Mop-Top Virus is no threat to the supply of New Zealand's potato chips. Pic: ©GettyImages/Pavlo_K
The Potato Mop-Top Virus is no threat to the supply of New Zealand's potato chips. Pic: ©GettyImages/Pavlo_K

Related tags: Potato chips, New zealand, Virus

When the Potato Mop-Top Virus (PMTV) was first detected in New Zealand in September, speculation was rife that it could put potato chips under threat.

The virus could affect productivity if it spreads, however, Biosecurity New Zealand emphasized it is not a food safety issue.

“This is the first time the virus has been found in New Zealand, however, it is common in other countries,”​ said David Yard, incident controller at Biosecurity New Zealand.

“It is a notifiable and unwanted organism in New Zealand under the Biosecurity Act.”

Exists in other countries

Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) has subsequently confirmed that, although the virus was found in Innovator potatoes – the variety used for potato chips – MPTV exists in many countries and is easily managed.

“It's in the United States and Europe and they still have plenty of chips,”​ said Gemma Carroll, PMZ’s head of communications and engagement.

Stop the risk of spread

PMTV was first found on a Canterbury farm in September. Biosecurity NZ now suspects 18 more properties have been affected and has expanded testing nationwide.

Infected potatoes showed distortions to the skin, deep cracking and discoloration that makes them unsuitable for processing.

“The industry is working closely with Biosecurity New Zealand to learn more about the virus, the impact it could have on growers, and to stop any risk of spread,”​ added Chris Claridge, PZN’s CEO of Potatoes New Zealand.

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