Bendy bananas

Rule that hasn’t changed

– The bend of a banana must be “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(1.06ins).

Source: European Commission

Yup, even they admit that it is still a criminal offence to sell a banana if it doesn\’t meet this shape standard.

They\’ve still not understood the basic concept here, that it is insane to have such prescriptive rules trying to cover an entire continent.

If producers, wholesaler, retailers, want to get together to have a classification system, good luck to them. But using the criminal law to enforce such is, as noted, insane. People should be able to buy and sell outside the classification system if they so wish.

12 thoughts on “Bendy bananas”

  1. “It is insane to have such prescriptive rules in a single town, let alone a country, let alone a continent.”

    Yes. It’s also terrible how if I want to make a GSM phone I have to jump through all kinds of ridiculous hoops and silly regulations. I ought to be able to get a cordless phone and stick the GSM logo on it and sell it. We are probably paying 40% too much for our phones because of these tiresome rules.

    Oh, and Tim missed out a few key words from the original article, including “describe” and “class 1” and “class 2”. Funny how he didn’t quote those.

  2. Kay Tie

    You accuse Tim of obfuscation, but you seem to be doing exactly the same thing. GSM phones are specific trademarked items which are expected to meet certain specific performance and technical criteria. Bananas, on the other hand, are generic fruits – so long as they come from a banana tree and are fit for human consumption I cannot see why any further definition is required.

    Surely even you must find it slightly scary that the eu is run by the sort of anally retentive poeple for whom the ratio fruit thickness along its length is a matter of super-governmental importance.

  3. “You accuse Tim of obfuscation, but you seem to be doing exactly the same thing. GSM phones are specific trademarked items which are expected to meet certain specific performance and technical criteria. ”

    GSM was an EU-mandated standard. The EU commission said that a single standard should apply across the whole EU and that each national government should make the same standard spectrum available. The EU then said that a particular trade body should maintain the standard.

    Obviously there are huge advantages when it comes to trade that certain standards exist, and that in some cases it is better to simply mandate one than rely on an industry-sapping bun fight.

    A buyer in the UK needs to know what “class 1” means when ordering tomatoes from a tiny supplier in Spain. For sure, I can’t see any reason why the EU has to be so intricately involved in the specifications. It’s absurd. Why did they do it this way? I don’t know.

    Tim knows this all, of course. He’s engaged in deliberate obfuscation, probably as a result of seeing the eye-melting purple UKIP logo every day.

    Tim adds: Nope, I’ve shouting about this for ages, long before I joined UKIP. That there are standards is just great. Where you’ve got to allocate a limited resource (spectrum for example) I’m quite happy with government being the enforcer and even progenitor of said standards.

    That simply ain’t true of bananas or fruit so there is no role in government setting such standards.

    (Yes, usual caveats about prosecuting people who defraud through lying, or who ship arsenic as bananas etc)

  4. For those who missed Kay Tie’s point on Class 1 vs Class 2: the restrictions apply only if you want to market your bananas as Class 1. Which is exactly the same as marketing your phone as GSM.

    If you don’t want to market your bananas as Class 1, they can be whatever goddamn shape you wish. The classification system is just a way of ensuring that suppliers, shops and consumers get the kind of bananas they’re expecting…

    Tim adds: Nope. If they do not meet class I or class II standards then they cannot be sold directly for human consumption, they must rather go into industrial processing.

    If the regs had simply been “this is class I, this II” then I wouldn’t have objected very much. But that isn’t what they were saying. If it ain’t class I or II then you cannot, under pain of criminal law, sell it to someone to peel and eat.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31994R2257:EN:HTML

    QUALITY STANDARDS FOR BANANAS I. DEFINITION OF PRODUCE

    This standard applies to bananas of the varieties (cultivars) of Musa (AAA) spp., Cavendish and Gros Michel subgroups, referred to in Annex II, for supply fresh to the consumer after preparation and packaging. Plantains, bananas intended for industrial processing and fig bananas are not covered.

    II. QUALITY

    This standard defines the quality requirements to be met by unripened green bananas after preparation and packaging.

    A. Minimum requirements

    In all classes, subject to the special provisions for each class and the tolerances allowed, the bananas must be:

    – green and unripened,

    – intact,

    – firm,

    – sound; produce affected by rotting or deterioration such as to make it unfit for consumption is excluded,

    – clean, practically free from visible foreign matter,

    – practically free from pests,

    – practically free from damage caused by pests,

    – with the stalk intact, without bending, fungal damage or dessication,

    – with pistils removed,

    – free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers,

    – practically free from bruises,

    – practically free from damage due to low temperatures,

    – free from abnormal external moisture,

    – free from any foreign smell and/or taste.

    In addition, hands and clusters (parts of hands) must include:

    – a sufficient portion of crown of normal colouring, sound and free from fungal contamination,

    – a cleanly cut crown, not beveled or torn, with no stalk fragments.

    The physical development and ripeness of the bananas must be such as to enable them to:

    – withstand transport and handling,

    and

    – arrive in satisfactory condition at the place of destination in order to attain an appropriate degree of maturity after ripening.

    B. Classification

    Bananas are classified into the three classes defined below:

    (i) ‘Extra’ class

    Bananas in this class must be of superior quality. They must have the characteristics typical of the variety and/or commercial type.

    The fingers must be free from defects, apart from slight superficial blemishes not covering a total of more than 1 cm2 of the surface of the finger, which must not impair the general appearance of the hand or cluster, its quality, its keeping quality or the presentation of the package.

    (ii) Class I

    Bananas in this class must be of good quality. They must display the characteristics typical of the variety and/or commercial type.

    However, the following slight defects of the fingers are allowed, provided they do not impair the general appearance of each hand or cluster, its quality, its keeping quality or the presentation of the package:

    – slight defects in shape,

    – slight skin defects due to rubbing and other slight superficial blemishes not covering a total of more than 2 cm2 of the surface of the finger.

    Under no circumstances may such slight defects affect the flesh of the fruit.

    (iii) Class II

    This class covers bananas which do not qualify for inclusion in the higher classes but satisfy the minimum requirements specified above.

    The following defects of the fingers are allowed, provided the bananas retain their essential characteristics as regards quality, keeping quality and presentation:

    – defects of shape,

    – skin defects due to scraping, rubbing or other causes, provided that the total area affected does not cover more than 4 cm2 of the surface of the finger.

    Under no circumstances may the defects affect the flesh of the fruit.

    III. SIZING

    Sizing is determined by:

    – the length of the edible pulp of the fruit, expressed in centimetres and measured along the convex face from the blossom end to the base of the peduncle,

    – the grade, i.e. the measurement, in millimetres, of the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis.

    The reference fruit for measurement of the length and grade is:

    – the median finger on the outer row of the hand,

    – the finger next to the cut sectioning the hand, on the outer row of the cluster.

    The minimum length permitted is 14 cm and the minimum grade permitted is 27 mm.

    As an exception to the last paragraph, bananas produced in Madeira, the Azores, the Algarve, Crete and Lakonia which are less than 14 cm in length may be marketed in the Community but must be classified in Class II.

  5. “That simply ain’t true of bananas or fruit so there is no role in government setting such standards.”

    I agree with you completely on that: it should be up to the European Buyers Association of Europe or some such appears-on-Have-I-Got-News-For-You-guest-publication type body to set the meaning of certain terms like “class 1”. But that’s not the point the Daily Mail et al is making, is it? They are claiming that straight bananas are illegal. Full stop.

    I don’t believe the Daily Mail etc. I am loathe to attempt to prove my disbelief by wading through thousands of pages of euroscrut. I reckon I’ve paid my debt to society by wading through the awfulness of various nef publications. So I’m afraid my continued disbelief will have to stand in stead of proof-of-a-negative.

  6. “If they do not meet class I or class II standards then they cannot be sold directly for human consumption, they must rather go into industrial processing.”

    Perhaps that explains why tomatoes in ready meals are so much tastier than the disgusting red spheres sold in supermarkets.

    Tim: can you point me to the bit of the euroscrut that specifically outlaws the retail of non-classified bananas (or anything else)? I still don’t see from those words that non-conformant stuff is banned from the retail chain.

    Tim adds: “This standard applies to bananas of the varieties (cultivars) of Musa (AAA) spp., Cavendish and Gros Michel subgroups, referred to in Annex II, for supply fresh to the consumer after preparation and packaging. Plantains, bananas intended for industrial processing and fig bananas are not covered.”

    Don’t forget, we are talking Roman Law here, not Common. If you don’t have express permission then you cannot.

  7. This whole Class 1, Class 2, Class 666 things is nonsense and a classic mis-justification of excessive state interference.

    Picture two men, Messrs A and B. Both have been dispatched to the shop by their respective spouses to buy a bunch of bananas. They both go to the same discount greengrocer who buys bananas of all shapes and sizes and bungs them into a big bin.

    Mr A knows that Mrs A is going to make banana custard for pudding tonight. Since this involves chopping the aforementioned plantains and smothering them in the aforementioned dessert topping he knows appearances are immaterial and simply grabs a ripe looking bunch and goes home to watch the footie.

    Mr B, on the other hand, knows that Mrs B’s mother is coming for the weekend. Ma-in-Law is a particular woman, much given to criticising whatever she believes to be sub-standard. Mr B therefore invests some time selecting bananas that will look “right” in the fruit bowl.

    Alternatively, if he didn’t wish to waste time, Mr B could go to a different shop, a quality fruiterer where he knows they presort bananas and he too will simply be able to grab a bunch straight off the shelf. This added service might cost him a small premium but perhaps his time is more valuable to him than a few pennies.

    Now. Could someone please inform me at what point in this whole process is the intervention of shiny suited apparatchiks necessary? Much as it might surprise the feminists amongst us, it looks as though Messrs A and B are both perfectly capable of making the necessary decisons all by themselves.

    Indeed, I’d go so far to say as anyone so mentally deficient as to be unable to make this sort of choice unaided deserves to eat funny-looking bananas whatever the circumstances.

  8. Tim: Do foreign grocers sell oddly shaped fruit and veg to the public?

    If so do they do it by selling varieties that aren’t covered by EC legislation or do they just do it and stuff the EC?

  9. “Indeed, I’d go so far to say as anyone so mentally deficient as to be unable to make this sort of choice unaided deserves to eat funny-looking bananas whatever the circumstances.”

    I think anyone this mentally deficient is already in government so probably has someone to buy their bananas for them…

  10. @8, wouldn’t it be more convenient to have a choice of 3 bins, “pretty bananas”, “ugly bananas” and “fit only for processing” bananas? Perhaps it would also be useful to have standard definitions of the terms used, so that if you go to an unfamiliar greengrocer, then you can purchase the kind of banana you want without having to spend time searching through them?

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