E.U. Gives a Pass to Vegetables That Don't Measure Up
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Tim Down knows that 1 millimeter is nothing to sniff at. This past summer, the fruit and vegetable wholesaler was caught with kiwi fruit that were too small by about that much -- 0.04 of an inch.
Government inspectors told him that because his 5,000 Chilean kiwis were too scrawny, he could not sell them.
"I couldn't even give them away. It was ridiculous," said Down, a 53-year-old from Bristol, who paid $150 to dispose of the fruit.
There is good news for merchants such as Down who hawk misshapen produce. This month, the European Union voted to repeal its strict rules on the size, shape and appearance of 26 fruits and vegetables. It will still regulate 10 items, including kiwi fruit, but if one of these is now deemed too petite, or too plump, it could still be sold as long as it carries a warning label.
"This is better regulated at the level of trade than at the level of Brussels," said Michael Mann, the E.U. spokesman on agriculture.
The changes take effect in July. Until then, it will remain illegal for retailers throughout the European Union to sell a forked carrot or a cauliflower less than 4.33 inches in diameter. A Class 1 green asparagus must be green for at least 80 percent of its length. A vine shoot on a bunch of grapes must be less than 1.97 inches.