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Antibufala UE

EUROPA - European Commission - Directorate General Press and Communication - Get your facts straight

The Press: EU regulations mean the end of bendy bananas, curved cucumbers and chunky carrots. Greengrocers must conform to the myriad of rules covering size, length, colour and texture of fruit and vegetables.
(The Times, 19 December 2003)
The Facts: Bananas are classified according to quality and size for international trade. Individual governments and the industry have in the past had their own standards with the latter's, in particular, being very stringent. The European Commission was asked by national agriculture ministers and the industry to draft legislation in this area. Following extensive consultation with the industry, the proposed quality standards were adopted by national ministers in Council in 1994.

The diameter of the fruit is a way of measuring its maturity/development. Fruit grown organically or conventionally have to reach a certain degree of maturity in order to have a reasonable chance of satisfying the consumer. The minimum diameters laid down by standards are usually fixed at a level at which most fruit are of a satisfactory quality for consumption. This minimum stage of development does not depend on the method of production, but more on cultivation techniques diminishing the number of fruits on the tree to allow a better development of the remaining ones. That is why there is no specific requirement for organic produce. The contrary would mean organic farmers being allowed to sell smaller produce.

Cucumbers do not have to be straight. There are grading rules, which were called for by representatives from the industry to enable buyers in one country to know what quality and quantity they would get when purchasing a box, unseen, from another country. Nothing is banned under these rules: they simply help to inform traders of particular specifications. The EU Single Market rules are identical to pre-existing standards set down both by the UN/OECD and the UK.