South Korea has lifted a two month old ban on Northwest potato exports - at least the ones used for potato chips. The move comes after growers agreed to take steps to insure they don’t ship potatoes infected with zebra chip disease.
The zebra chip pest isn’t a danger to the consumer. But it makes for an unsightly and unsellable potato chip with dark stripes.
The disease was first detected in Northwest grown potatoes last year. In order to resume exports, Northwest growers have agreed to apply a sprout inhibitor. Plus, the US Department of Agriculture will cut into a certain number of potatoes in each shipping container to check for signs of the disease.
Matt Harris is with the Washington State Potato Commission. He says the ban was also a burden on South Korean potato chip makers.
“If they cannot source potatoes from Washington state they literally shut down their factories two months out of the year.”
Harris spoke from South Korea on a trade mission led by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. Harris says a ban remains in place on fresh Northwest potatoes that are not headed for South Korean potato chip factories.
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