Virus found in potatoes, are potato chips under threat?

A virus has been found in potato tubers in Canterbury which could affect productivity if it spreads.

Biosecurity New Zealand is working with Potatoes New Zealand to respond to a detection of Potato mop-top virus (PMTV).

Incident controller, David Yard, says PMTV is not a food safety issue.

"Potato mop-top virus is a crop disease which, if found to be wide-spread, could cause some productivity issues for growers.

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

Mr Yard says, to date, potato tubers from two properties in the Canterbury region have tested positive for the virus. 

Further sampling is under way in the region.

"This is the first time the virus has been found in New Zealand, however, it is common in other countries."

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive, Chris Claridge, says the affected potatoes are from the Innovator variety, which are only used for potato chips.

"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," Mr Claridge says.

"We will then consider if it is possible to eradicate it, or whether we will need to work with growers to manage its impact over the long term."

The Innovator variety of potato was last imported as germplasm into New Zealand in July 2011.

Affected potatoes can display symptoms including distortions to the skin, deep cracking, and rust-coloured arcs, streaks or flecks in the tuber flesh.

Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating how the virus may have entered the country.

Newshub