Misshapen fruit and vegetables no longer discriminated against in Europe

Friday, 03 July, 2009

The European Commission's rules governing the standardisation of size and shape for 26 types of fruit and vegetables have been repealed in Europe, effective 1 July. So misshapen and wonky fruit and vegetables will no longer be discriminated against.

"This marks a new dawn for the 'curvy' cucumber and the 'knobbly' carrot," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "It's a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape. We simply don't need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level. It is far better to leave it to market operators. And in these days of high food prices and general economic difficulties, consumers should be able to choose from the widest range of products possible. It makes no sense to throw perfectly good products away, just because they are the 'wrong' shape."

The standards have been repealed for 26 products: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, cherries, courgettes, cucumbers, cultivated mushrooms, garlic, hazelnuts in shell, headed cabbage, leeks, melons, onions, peas, plums, ribbed celery, spinach, walnuts in shell, watermelons and witlof/chicory.

Specific marketing standards are still in place for 10 products which account for 75% of the value of EU trade: apples, citrus fruit, kiwifruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes. However, member states can exempt these from the standards if they are sold in the shops with an appropriate label. In practical terms, this means that an apple which does not meet the standard could still be sold in the shop, as long as it was labelled 'product intended for processing' or equivalent wording.

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