Those EU Bent Banana Rules

And, of course, those curved cucumber ones. We\’ve been told for years that they\’re a myth, that they\’re simple fabrications made up by nasty Euro-Sceptics.

For example, the EU itself talking about cucumbers:

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.

So, cucumbers do not have to be straight and nothing is banned.

Hmm.

Mariann Fischer Boel, the European agriculture commissioner, believes the regulations are outdated and is said to be amazed by attempts to block the reforms.

“In these days of high food prices it’s silly to throw stuff away,” said a spokesman for the commission. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Fischer Boel has pledged to press on with reform regardless of whether it is rejected this week.

The commission has drawn up a plan to scrap standards for 26 fruit and vegetables including apricots, onions, peas, carrots and melons.

In a compromise to try to push the reforms through it has agreed to maintain standards on 10 items, including tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, lettuce and kiwi fruit.

At present fruit and vegetables that do not meet the minimum standards cannot be sold as second-class produce, which leads to perfectly edible items being thrown away.

Gosh, so now we\’re to be treated to the wonderful sight of the Commission abolishing rules which it insists never existed anyway. Amazing how that works, isn\’t it?

So, err, what are these rules?

Brussels lays down strict rules for the dimensions of fruit and vegetables, claiming they simplify packaging and protect consumers

— Class 1 cucumbers must be “practically straight” and their maximum bend must be at a gradient of no more than 1/10

— Bananas must be bent – in Euro-speak, “the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis . . . must be at a minimum of 27mm”. They must also be longer than 14 cm

— A string of onions must consist of no fewer than 16 onions bound together

— Class 1 green asparagus must be green for at least 80% of its length

— A bunch of grapes must not weigh more than 1kg

— Carrots must be at smooth and regular. If they are less than 20mm long, they must be called “early carrots”

And what has the EU Commission in the UK press office been saying about these "euromyths"?

Bananas.

Bananas must not be excessively curved.
The Sun, 4 March 1998, p6

 

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.

So they don\’t directly deny it, just obfuscate.

Cucumbers is already above. They lie.

So, in their refutations we have one lie and one dodging the question.

Can we leave yet?

 

6 comments on “Those EU Bent Banana Rules

  1. The mental image of idiots (as in above) measuring the degree of bendiness of cucumbers and length of carrots and turning their preferences into law is wonderful, but the thought comes to mind that if they simply concentrated on paying attention to their own handy dandy vegetables they’d have more fun and we’d be a lot better off.

  2. If this degree of classification of fruit and vegetables had ever been necessary, the retailers would have already been doing it themselves, and adjusting prices accordingly.

    What these regulations did was outlaw the freedom of producers and buyers to reach independant agreements. It was never about food safety, or quality, or value for money.

    I have a term for referring to these meddling control freaks now, I just call them crats.

  3. “If this degree of classification of fruit and vegetables had ever been necessary”

    I’m sure it’s necessary, but …

    “the retailers would have already been doing it themselves, and adjusting prices accordingly.”

    Precisely. In fact, they are: the supermarkets are far more picky about things than the ‘crats are. I find it astonishing that these things are written into law.

  4. the supermarkets are far more picky about things than the ‘crats are. I find it astonishing that these things are written into law.

    They wouldn’t be spiking the competition on behalf of the supermarkets would they? Just a thought.

  5. so all that stuff about “the myth of EU cucumber regulations” (e.g. Stephen Fry on BBC’s “QI” a while back)… is itself a myth!

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