EU reprieve for misshapen fruit and veg


SO-CALLED "ugly" fruit and vegetables, like crooked carrots, bent cucumbers and undersized melons, are likely to be back on supermarket shelves next year as a result of an EU decision later today.

The EU's Management Committee for Fruit and Vegetables is expected to amend the minimum size and shape standards for fruit and vegetables when it meets in Brussels.

The impetus to change the regulations, which prevented the sale of the perfectly safe but misshapen produce came from the EU commissioner for agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, earlier this year.

The food price hike caused by higher oil prices prompted her to hit out at the waste of food caused by the marketing standards set by the EU which excluded them from supermarket shelves.

If the 27 national EU experts agree, the rules defining minimum shapes and sizes would be repealed for 26 fruits and vegetables. These are 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, water melons and witloof/chicory.

Marketing standards will be re- tained for apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes. It is likely to be agreed that member states can exempt even these from marketing standards if they are sold in the shops with appropriate labels stating "products intended for processing".