A BAN on mangoes imported from India has caused a stir among East Lancashire retailers and lovers of the fruit.

Sanctions on the alphonso variety of mangoes have been imposed by the EU until December 2015, amid fears that shipments could be infested with fruit flies that could damage European salad crops.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the pests posed no risk to public health.

The ban came into force on Thursday and Prime Minister David Cameron was presented with a box of mangoes earlier in the week as part of the campaign to stop the sanctions.

Critics of the ban argue it is disproportionate and will not only impact on UK businesses, will will also damage Britain’s trade relationship with India.

Mango lovers are particularly disappointed because the alphonso variety, a favourite among many, is only available for a few weeks every year.

Mohammed Ramzan, owner PK Foods in Audley, said the ban will severely impact on his business.

He said: “Obviously it’s affecting our business. “We shift a lot of mangoes, we sell about £9000 or £10,000 worth every week.

“Our customers are very disappointed, they love mangoes. “They’re only available for two to three months, people have waited all year and now they can’t get them.”

Blackburn mayor Salim Mulla said the ban was currently the hottest topic of conversation among the Asian community.

He said: “I’m very upset about it, I really, really love mangoes, they’re my favourite fruit.

“I don’t know what the real reason is. It’s a fantastic exotic fruit and I’m very upset that I won’t be able to feast on mangoes anymore.

“It’s the hot topic at the moment within the community, every day we talk about the mango ban.”

Blackburn shopkeeper Suleman Khonat, who represents retailers in the area said he understood why the EU had taken action, but he did have concerns for local businesses.

He said: “We are very concerned about it. I love my mangoes, and it’s something you look forward to and this year we’re going to struggle.

“It will affect shop owners in this country, but it will also be affecting the growers and retailers. Millions of pounds worth of mangoes come by container from India.

“But we’re glad that the issue has come up early, at least it’s been picked up quickly before it can have a detrimental effect.”