EU regulation prevents sale of 'small' kiwi fruit in Bristol shop

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The kiwi fruit
Image: Keith S Brown.

A grocer in Bristol has been told that, under regulations brought in by the European Union, he is not allowed to sell a recently imported batch of kiwi fruit because they are too small. A spokesperson for the UK's Rural Payments Agency said that they failed the EU standards for fruit.

Tim Down, the grocer involved, responded angrily to the action taken by government. "I was given 24 hours to think about it and my outrage grew." He continued "They are perfectly fit to eat. These regulations come at a time when rising food prices are highlighted and we're being forced to throw away perfectly good food."

The flag of the European Union

Down then claimed that there was no problem with the food. "There is nothing wrong with its palatability, it's purely because it is slightly less than the prescribed minimum size."

The government officials found that some of the Kiwis weighed only 58 grams, four grams below the required level. The EU has said that it plans to lessen the restrictions imposed by the regulation, potentially stopping an incident like this occurring in the future.

"The inspector's decision is consistent with RPA's commitment to protect consumers, who must feel confident that the produce they are buying is of the right quality," said a spokesperson of the Rural Payments Agency, explaining the move.

Under the Agriculture and Horticulture Act 1964, selling undersized fruit, or providing them at no cost, is an offence which can carry a penalty of £5,000. The Food Standards Agency has said that the act "provides for the application and enforcement in Great Britain of European Community Regulations specifying the grading, marketing and labelling requirements for certain fresh fruit and vegetables and makes certain acts or omissions that contravene those rules punishable offences. "