Tuesday, 16th February 2010
Spanish threat to local farmers as wonky fruit rules come under spotlight again
Bendy bananas and knobbly fruit and vegetables could be for the chop again after Spanish MEPs in the European Parliament began moves to get the EU to re-impose its ban on wonky produce.
The Spanish amendments, if passed, could spell misery for local farmers whose fruit and vegetables might not necessarily pass a beauty contest but whose flavour and quality is second to none.
This decade old political hot potato for the European Commission was finally overturned last year after sustained pressure from Conservatives MEPs and acres of bad publicity in the press. Prior to the u-turn, strict marketing standards were imposed for 26 types of fruit and vegetables governing their size and shape. Bananas that curved too much, oversized apples and knobbly carrots could not be sold. Instead they had to be thrown away wasting a huge amount of healthy food and driving prices up.
Last July the rules were relaxed but now Spanish MEPs in the European Parliament are demanding that the ludicrous rules are reintroduced.
Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson says:
"Food is food, no matter what it looks like. To try to stop stores selling perfectly decent food simply because of its shape or size is morally unjustifiable, especially when we are worried about global food supplies and still in the throes of an economic downturn.
"These rules were the butt of jokes for the European Commission and I thought common sense had finally prevailed when they relaxed the rules last July. Our farmers were grateful too as it meant they could sell perfectly good and often better quality produce. If the Spanish MEPs get their way, we could see the re-introduction of the ludicrous bendy banana rules.
"Needless to say Conservatives will be vigorously opposing the move and I will be campaigning on behalf of our Scottish farmers and growers. At the end of the day it's consumers who will decide what they want. Let the market decide, not the politicians."
Notes to Editors:
1. Spanish Amendments tabled to the Scotta report can be found here. The amendments concerning fruit and vegetables marketing standards are numbers 33 and 34. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/agri/am/796/796241/796241en.pdf
The Scotta report can be accessed here – http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/agri/pr/793/793537/793537en.pdf