UK fruit importers are on high alert for cases of blackspot disease as the South African citrus season gets under way.

Importers fear the UK could lose one of its most important sources of citrus fruit, as Brussels has threatened to clamp down on South African citrus imports because it fears the plant disease could spread to Europe.

It has said it will take action - including potentially an EU-wide ban on South African citrus - as soon as five cases of blackspot are found this current season. The Fresh Produce Consortium said it had been advised by Defra that citrus blackspot was not a problem for the UK, and it would seek an urgent derogation from any ban from the EC.