BRUSSELS, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Curvy cucumbers, forky carrots, bendy beans
and other strange-shaped vegetables and fruits are returning to supermarket
shelves in European Union (EU) countries, as new rules allowing sale of wonky
fruit and vegetables will come into force on Wednesday.
"July 1 marks the return to our shelves of the curved cucumber and the
knobby carrot," said Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and
The new rules, adopted by the European Commission last December, repealed
specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruits and vegetables, meaning the
end of EU rules governing the size and shape of these products, which include
cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, melons, mushrooms and garlic.
The weird standards, introduced more than 20 years ago, have been derided
by critics as a proof of EU's madness to regulate everything, under which a
Class 1 green asparagus must be green for 80 percent of its length, Class 1
cucumbers should not be bent by a curve of more than ten millimeters per ten
centimeters, and a string of onions must have 16 onions to qualify.
Forked carrots, onions that are less than two thirds covered with skin and
the over bent cucumbers are excluded from supermarket shelves.
Now the rules governing the size and shape of fruits and vegetables will be
consigned to history.
Although for ten types of fruits and vegetables, including apples,
strawberries and tomatoes, marketing standards will remain in place, EU member
states could for the first time allow shops to sell those products that do not
respect the standards, as long as they are appropriately labeled.
In other words, the new rules will allow national authorities to permit the
sale of all fruits and vegetables, regardless of their size and shape. For
example, an apple which does not meet the standard could still be sold in the
shop, as long as it was labeled "product intended for processing" or equivalent
The commission said the repeal of the excessive standards forms part of its
ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify EU rules and cut red tape, and it
will cut waste and allow consumers a wider choice of products.
"This is a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape. We do
not need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level. It is far better to leave
it to market operators," Boel said.
"The changes also mean that consumers will be able to choose from the
widest range of products possible. It makes no sense to throw perfectly good
products away, just because they are the 'wrong' size and shape," she