The law that prevents wonky fruit and vegetables being sold in supermarkets is being changed by the European Union.
You may not have realised it but not all fruit and vegetables are cosmetically perfect like the ones you buy in the local supermarket. Carrots do grow with nobles, and cucumbers curved, but until today supermarket caught selling these could face criminal prosecution.
Cucumbers were the first to be regulated by the EU in 1988, the legislation stated that Class I cucumbers must “be reasonably well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of the length of cucumber)”. Class II “slightly crooked cucumbers may have a maximum height of the arc of 20 mm per 10 cm of length of the cucumber”.
However a “slightly crooked” cucumber with a blemish would have no chance and would simply be allowed to rot and go to waste.
This morning a vote by the EU committee ruled that “marketing standards” for 26 fruits and vegetables including carrots, asparagus and onions was to be lifted however the regulations would still apply for a further ten which would include apples and kiwi fruits.
Michael Mann, the European Commission’s Agriculture spokesman told BBC Radio4’s World at One: “We are glad we are getting rid of these standards because frankly this is not the sort of thing that we should be regulating in the EU.”
The repealing of “marketing standards” for the lucky list of 26 could help save consumers money as they are unlikely to be sold at as high a price as their aesthetically pleasing relatives.
It should also cut down on the amount of edible produce wasted. Estimates suggest that a fifth of onions are thrown away each year as they do not meet the standards required.
The Rural Payments Agency was responsible for enforcing the law until this morning and reported that they prosecuted about 5 retailers per year for breaching the regulations.
Bananas however will still be regulated under a separate legislation, this states that they must be at least 14cm long and 27mm thick in the middle. As Michael Mann explained: “Bananas are a much more complex case.”
For those of us willing to embrace the world of wonky veg, we will likely have to wait until July next year before tucking into crooked courgettes and other deviant vegetables.