Unbent bananas and curvy cucumbers

This should be forbidden. Well: it is.

What do the following have in common: onions, apricots, Brussels sprouts, watermelons and cauliflowers? Since 1 July 2009 they’re on the list of 26 items that can be marketed in Europe with knobs, bumps and curves.

The money-wasting regulations that classed cucumbers with a bend of 10mm per 10cm of length differently from cucumbers with twice as much bend have been overhauled. Yes, curvy cucumbers are now permitted. Mother Nature is back in our shops. And the unbent banana is back (sorry, that’s “bananas with ‘abnormal curvature’ of the fingers are back”).

Some are delighted (“How anyone ever sat down in an office in Brussels and got paid an enormous amount of money to decide on the correct curvature of a cucumber beggars belief.”). Some (still) find it ridiculous (“We fear that the absence of EU standards will lead member states to establish national standards and that private standards will proliferate”).

Oh well. What should producers do? Go with the flow? Lobby and campaign for more change?

I guess it depends how much time and money they have. The EU seems to have plenty of both, even if it doesn’t always know what to do with it.

But there’s bad news: the top ten items that account for 75% of EU fruit & veg sales (including tomatoes, lettuces, endives, lemons, limes and apples) are still under tight EU controls. Unless shops label them clearly as a “product intended for processing”.

Sorry kids, you may never get to see a real tomato. Unless you enjoy making processed foods.

Alex Woodruff

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