End of Barmy EU fruit rules?

Bendy cucumbers and funny shaped fruit and veg could be back on the table if the European Commission has its way.

Strasbourg, 17th June 2008 —- Conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins has welcomed moves by the European Commission to simplify the barmy EU rules on fruit which would allow bendy cucumbers and funny shaped fruit to once again be sold in British shops.

European Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel wants to simplify and loosen up the rules of marketing fruit and veg and is proposing a widespread cull of the existing 36 marketing standards which stipulate quality standards on a range of products from apricots to watermelons. Among those to go would be the infamous “cucumber” quality standard which ensures that cucumbers can not bend more than 10mm for every 10cm of length. In their place, the Commission is proposing just ten standards which would continue the existing rules on fruits such as apples, pears and kiwis and vegetables such as tomatoes and lettuces whilst ensuring that other products met a basic set of standards.

The Commissioner is however reported to have already run into trouble in the Council of Ministers with 18 of the 27 member states understood to be opposed to any changes with the French, Italians, Germans and Spanish amongst those planning to block any loosening up of the rules.

Sir Robert said :-

“Finally the European Commission comes up with a sensible idea aimed at getting rid of frankly silly rules which are all about the shape and not the quality of the product and lo and behold the usual suspects line up to block it. Quite why the French, Spanish, Germans and Italians want to continue the unjustified ban on bendy cucumbers is beyond me.

“The new rules will still ensure that all fruit and veg is clean and healthy whilst allowing people to enjoy the diversity that normal production brings. The regulations as they stand are unnatural, wasteful and serve no practical purpose other than ensuring that fruit and veg looks good. The British government must now support the Commission and use its influence to make other member states see sense.”

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