Smith Hails "Bendy Banana Bombshell"

12 November 2008
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) hailed a decision by member state governments to relax EU definitions on fruit and vegetables as a victory for common sense.

The infamous "straight banana" of legend sprang from common standards agreed years ago to standardise EU trade in fruit and vegetables, but have proven unnecessary and the decision today comes after intense lobbying from the European Commission to scrap the rules in the teeth of opposition particularly from Italy, Spain, France and Hungary.

The decision will relax standards, and allow more irregularly shaped fruit and vegetables to be sold to the consumer where presently irregular shaped fruit and veg will more usually be used in processed food.

Smith said:

"I'm tempted towards whimsy on welcoming this decision, but this is good news for producers and consumers. It may just perhaps even nail once and for all the myth that the EU regulates everything in sight. The rules have actually helped EU trade in fruit and veg because they replaced 27 sets of standards on banana curvature or cucumber circumference, with one set of rules, across a massive market.

"However the rules have proven too proscriptive, and the Commission proposals to sweep them away and keep only a bare minimum in certain products is sensible and to be welcomed. I'm not convinced by retailers promising savings of 40% because in my experience the EU rules are far, far more flexible than the rules the supermarkets enforce on their producers, but anything that declutters the EU legislative playing field has to be good news.

"I also flatly disagree with supermarkets promising that this move will stop a fifth of produce going to waste. There is no way supermarkets would allow this sort of wastage in the first place, some irregular produce may not be sold direct to the consumer, but it will assuredly find its way into a pie or some other processed food, not the bin.

"But all in all, at a time of food price inflation it seems only logical to ensure that as much food produced can reach the consumer, so a thumbs up to the European Commission from me. I hope eurosceptics everywhere, deprived of their sport, will now discover a new, more rewarding hobby: keeping a close eye on bananas across the EU to see if they become any more noticeably bendy."