The European Commission has refused to accept defeat in the long-running political struggle over plans to scrap restrictive fruit and vegetable marketing standards.
A spokesman for EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said: “[She] is determined this should go ahead and is surprised by such strong resistance to such a practical example of simplification.”
The rules have imposed limits on the curviness of cucumbers or courgettes, and the maximum size of other fruit and vegetables.
Brussels now wants basic minimum standards for all but ten high-selling fruits. However, for over 20 other products, including cucumbers, asparagus and peas, standards would be significantly streamlined.
Southern European member states, led by Spain and Italy, oppose the move, arguing that they want “transparency in market operations while protecting consumers”.
However, Fischer Boel’s spokesman told just-food that the Commission was determined to cut the red tape on fruit and vegetable regulations in order to reduce waste.
“Apart from the reduction in red tape, we also propose that misshapen fruit be sold in supermarkets [with a cooking-use label],” he said. “With high prices and growing demand, this makes more sense than just throwing them away.”