MEPs want to bring wonky fruit ban back
The controversial ban was lifted by the European Commission last July, cutting red tape surrounding the shape and uniformity of fresh produce.
The move reduced food waste and cut retail prices by as much as 40 per cent in some cases.
But Spanish MEPs have won the support of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee to bring the ban back.
The issue will now go to the full Parliament for a vote and, although it is unlikely to be approved by EU ministers, the attempt was attacked as nonsensical by Tory MEP Richard Ashworth.
“Food is food, no matter what it looks like,” he said.
“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.”
Until the ban was lifted in July last year, EU rules dictated the shape and size of 36 varieties of produce, from apricots to watermelons, effectively banishing all but perfect specimens.
The then EU Agriculture Commissioner Marianne Fischer Boel trumpeted a rare popularity high point for Eurocrats, declaring: “We simply don’t need to regulate this sort of thing at EU level.
Spanish MEPs, anxious to defend their domestic markets, disagree, and tabled their own amendments to a report on EU agriculture quality policy.
Last July’s decision to lift the ban freed up the market for 26 sorts of fruit and veg including artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, onions, peas, carrots, plums, and ribbed celery.
Specific market rules stayed in place for the ten products which account for three quarters of EU fruit and veg trade – apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuces, peaches/nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes.
The Spanish government was among a handful of protectionist countries which opposed the lifting of the 20-year-old ban last year. Others were Italy, France and Hungary, all wanting to keep the ban to ensure a level playing field for food quality.